The Physics of Tippe-Top Inversion

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The Physics of Tippe-Top Inversion: spinning things often have surprising physics! This video is from a segment of my talk I’ll be presenting tomorrow at PhysicsCon 2020 (Caltech’s Feynman Lecture Hall, Jan 4) where I will talk about flip over tops and other physics toys. In brief: friction with the surface provides a torque that acts on the existing angular momentum of the top to flip it over. The top will stay flipped until the spin rate slows down enough to where its center of mass pulls it back to the resting position. Inversion phase shown at 240fps- note the little hop the top takes as it goes on to its stem! 

Tiny Tippe Top

Available from this shop in Germany: 
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Educational Innovations has reasonably priced, regular sized, wood tippe-tops in their shop: 
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Tiny Tippe-Top: spinning things often have surprising physics! The smallest functioning version of the famous flip-over top I've ever seen. Friction with the mirror provides a torque that acts on the existing angular momentum of the top to flip it over. The top will stay flipped until the spin rate slows down enough to where its center of mass pulls it back to the resting position. 

Precision Tippe Top

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Precision Tippe-Top: spinning things often have surprising physics! This aluminum version of the famous flip-over top works better than any I’ve seen. Friction with the desk surface provides a torque that acts on the existing angular momentum of the top to flip it over. The top will stay flipped until the spin rate slows down enough to where its center of mass pulls it back to the resting position.


Fruit Themed Tippe-Top

This quality wood toy available here: 
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More flip tops here:
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Fruit Themed Tippe-Top: spinning things often have surprising physics! This colorful top by Hape not only flips over when spun, it also exhibits interesting behavior due to instabilities as it slows down- serious break dance moves! Friction with the mirror provides a torque that acts on the existing angular momentum of the top to flip it over.

 

Fine Wood Tippe-Top

Handmade flip over tops available here: 
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Fine Wood Tippe-Top: spinning things often have surprising physics! This lathe worked version of the famous flip-over top is made of ebony and wood from the pink ivory tree. Friction with the mirror provides a torque that acts on the existing angular momentum of the top to flip it over. The top will stay flipped until the spin rate slows down enough to where its center of mass pulls it back to the resting position. 

Mega Tippe-Top

Here is the mega tippe-top compared to typical tippe-tops on the market and a US quarter dollar:

Limited quantities available from the Spinning Top and Yo-Yo Museum of Burlington, Wisconsin 

Educational Innovations has reasonably priced wood tippe-tops in their shop: 
From Educational Innovations: BUY NOW Tippe-Tops 
From Amazon: BUY NOW Tippe-Tops 

Mega Tippe-Top: spinning things often have surprising physics. This giant version of the famous flip-over top must be launched with a string pull to give it enough rotational energy to make the flip. It is also placed on a concave mirror to keep it from wandering too far. Friction with the mirror provides a torque that acts on the existing angular momentum of the top to flip it over.