Making Artificial Earthquakes with a Four-Tonne Steel Ball

  • Published on:  2/12/2018
  • In Göttingen, Germany, there's a four-tonne steel ball that can be raised up a 14-metre tower -- and then dropped in less than two seconds, crashing back to earth. It makes tiny, artificial earthquakes: here's why.

    Thanks to all the team at Wiechert'sche Erdbebenwarte Göttingen! You can find out more about them here:

    Three things I had to cut out of this video, because they didn't quite fit into the story or because I couldn't film them:

    The reason the steel ball survived two world wars is because the university's records listed it by use as a "rock-ball", not by composition as a "steel ball" - so no-one melted it down for weaponry.

    The observatory team refill that pit every year to make the ground flat, and the ball just digs a hole again. The rock's just being compressed underneath. They joke that, somewhere in Australia, there's a slowly growing hill...

    And finally, the ground steams for a little while after the ball hits: it gets rather warm...

    Edited by Michelle Martin (@mrsmmartin)

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  • Duration: 00:03:34
  • tom scott   tomscott   built for science   lutger mintrop   earthquake station   Wiechert'sche Erdbebenwarte Göttingen   emil wiechert   Weirchert's earthquake observatory   p-waves   s-waves   artificial earthquakes   seismograph   reflection seismology   smoked paper   Göttingen