Watch a Ping Pong Ball Rip Through a Soda Can at 500 MPH

Anyone who has ever played a spirited game of ping pong knows that the plastic balls are relatively fragile. But those delicate spheres can do some serious damage—when turned into 500 mph projectiles. In a new video (above) from Tested, hosts Norman Chan and Kishore Hari are joined by Zeke Kossover from the Exploratorium in San Francisco for an experiment involving a ping pong ball, a soda can, and a device called a "vacuum cannon."

The reason ping pong balls don't hurt when they're thrown is because of air resistance. As Kossover explains: "The ping pong ball, for its size, has a lot of air resistance. They're about two and a half grams, and they're fairly large for two and a half grams, so the wind resistance slows them down super fast. Even if you were to hit it at 60 miles an hour, by the time it gets to the other side of the table it's only going about 10 miles an hour." The key to getting the ball to move faster is to remove air from the equation, which is where the vacuum cannon comes into play.

After sealing each end of the cannon's tube with mylar sheets, Kossover draws the air out of the tube with the vacuum, then punctures one end so that air is allowed to rush back in. According to Kossover, that leads to about 45 pounds of force pushing on about two and a half grams (.00551156 pounds) of ping pong ball. In other words, it's a whole lot of energy barreling toward the unsuspecting aluminum can.

Watch the full experiment above, or check out the GIF below to skip to the satisfying result.

Images via Tested on YouTube

[h/t Nerdist]

By Ben Wittick (1845–1903) - Brian Lebel's Old West Show and Auction, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons
Photo of Billy the Kid and Pat Garrett, Purchased for $10, Could Be Worth Millions
By Ben Wittick (1845–1903) - Brian Lebel's Old West Show and Auction, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons
By Ben Wittick (1845–1903) - Brian Lebel's Old West Show and Auction, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

Several years ago, Randy Guijarro paid $2 for a few old photographs he found in an antiques shop in Fresno, California. In 2015, it was determined that one of those photos—said to be the second verified picture ever found of Billy the Kid—could fetch the lucky thrifter as much as $5 million. That story now sounds familiar to Frank Abrams, a lawyer from North Carolina who purchased his own photo of the legendary outlaw at a flea market in 2011. It turns out that the tintype, which he paid $10 for, is thought to be an image of Billy and Pat Garrett (the sheriff who would eventually kill him) taken in 1880. Like Guijarro’s find, experts say Abrams’s photo could be worth millions.

The discovery is as much a surprise to Abrams as anyone. As The New York Times reports, what drew Abrams to the photo was the fact that it was a tintype, a metal photographic image that was popular in the Wild West. Abrams didn’t recognize any of the men in the image, but he liked it and hung it on a wall in his home, which is where it was when an Airbnb guest joked that it might be a photo of Jesse James. He wasn’t too far off.

Using Google as his main research tool, Abrams attempted to find out if there was any famous face in that photo, and quickly realized that it was Pat Garrett. According to The New York Times:

Then, Mr. Abrams began to wonder about the man in the back with the prominent Adam’s apple. He eventually showed the tintype to Robert Stahl, a retired professor at Arizona State University and an expert on Billy the Kid.

Mr. Stahl encouraged Mr. Abrams to show the image to experts.

William Dunniway, a tintype expert, said the photograph was almost certainly taken between 1875 and 1880. “Everything matches: the plate, the clothing, the firearm,” he said in a phone interview. Mr. Dunniway worked with a forensics expert, Kent Gibson, to conclude that Billy the Kid and Mr. Garrett were indeed pictured.

Abrams, who is a criminal defense lawyer, described the process of investigating the history of the photo as akin to “taking on the biggest case you could ever imagine.” And while he’s thrilled that his epic flea market find could produce a major monetary windfall, don’t expect to see the image hitting the auction block any time soon. 

"Other people, they want to speculate from here to kingdom come,” Abrams told The New York Times of how much the photo, which he has not yet had valuated, might be worth. “I don’t know what it’s worth. I love history. It’s a privilege to have something like this.”

[h/t: The New York Times]

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