Bottle flipping is an activity and a challenge that involves throwing a plastic water bottle, typically full or partially full of liquid, into the air so that it rotates, in an attempt to land it upright on its bottom. It became an international trend in 2016, with numerous videos of people attempting the activity being posted online. With its popularity, the repetitive thuds of multiple attempts have been criticized as a distraction and a public nuisance. Parents and teachers have expressed frustration at the practice resulting in water bottle flipping being banned at a number of schools around the world.
In 2016, a viral video of a teenager, Michael Senatore, flipping a water bottle at a talent show at Ardrey Kell High School in Charlotte, North Carolina popularized the activity. Senatore had started flipping water bottles the year prior in his chemistry class, and mastered the trick. After his performance, the recorded video became a viral success; the trend spread across the rest of the world, and is still being done as of 2017.
Water bottle flipping involves taking a plastic water bottle that is partially empty and holding it by the neck of the bottle. Force is applied with a flick, with the bottom of the bottle rotating away from the person. If performed successfully, the bottle will land upright. Additionally, the bottle may land upside-down, or on its cap. Doing this is significantly more difficult than flipping a bottle so it lands upright. The amount of fluid in the bottle greatly influences the success of the feat, and it has been shown empirically that filling the bottle about one-third of the way improves the rate of success. The type of water bottle also plays a role; for instance, the brand Deer Park Spring Water has been noted to make the task easier due to its unique hourglass shape with a third divot.
The feat is often performed with disposable plastic water bottles due to their availability, but other containers can be used as well. The complex physics behind the activity incorporates concepts of fluid dynamics, projectile motion, angular momentum, centripetal force, and gravity.
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