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Stringless Yo-Yos Must Work Through Devil Magic (or Cool Science)

There isn’t a lot to know about a Yo-Yo. It’s a plastic spool attached to a string, attached to a finger. But there is much to learn about how a Yo-Yo really works. If you understand the physics, you’ll know why the toy doesn’t even need to be attached to the string.

In the latest video from the fantastic YouTube science channel Veritasium, host Derek Muller attempts to figure out how pro Yo-Yo-er Ben Conde can perform the tricks he does without having any permanent attachment to the toy.

The secret, as Muller explains, is friction. Inside of a Yo-Yo sit two friction pads that act like car breaks around a spinning axis. If the Yo-Yo is spinning fast enough — it usually is at around 6,000 RPM — then when a free floating string connects with the axis, the friction pads create forces that keep the string around long enough to wrap around itself. And like how a giant boat can be kept in place at the dock with a rope simply coiled around an anchor point a few times, once the string is around the axis more than once or twice, Conde can jerk on the string and the whole assembly returns to his hand.

Even knowing how the stringless Yo-Yo works, it still looks like magic when handled by someone as talented as Conde. At least all those “lonely Saturday nights” paid off dude.

What do you think? Is the stringless version the coolest version of a Yo-Yo, or are you still boycotting the toy entirely because you can’t get the damn things to sleep when you want to? Let us know in the comments below.

Images: Veritasium

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