Toy Gyroscope

picture of a toy gyroscope

A toy gyroscope is a fascinating toy. When you spin the wheel at high speed, the gyroscope is able to stand up vertically without falling over, as the video below shows. In fact, the gyroscope has the unique ability to resist changes in its orientation, and this ability is what makes it so useful as a navigational instrument in vessels, such as ships and airplanes. It can be used as a reference orientation which stays constant over time. No matter which way the frame around the gyroscope wheel is oriented, the wheel always remains in the same orientation. So if the wheel is oriented level with the ground then it becomes a reference for indicating what orientation a vessel is with respect to the ground.

Check out a video of a toy gyroscope:



The reason that a spinning gyroscope can move the way it does and resists falling over is difficult to explain fully. But basically, the spinning wheel creates a gyroscopic force which keeps the gyroscope from falling over (as the video shows). If the wheel stops spinning, the force disappears and the gyroscope falls over.

You can have a lot of fun with a toy gyroscope, and you can probably use its unique properties in magic tricks. It appears to levitate when in use, and if you're creative enough you can come up with a magic trick that involves levitation, using the gyroscope as the "secret" behind the trick.



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