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The forces acting in this charming video of a hamster running don't make sense to me so I thought I'd bring it here. It's very unusual indeed, but hopeful it spreads a little bit of entertaining critical thought.

Consider that the hamster is running in the wheel and that he is causing the wheel to spin in a clockwise motion. Why is it that when he messes up his footing he is flung in a counter clockwise motion? Shouldn't the inertia of the wheel cause him to spin the other way?

The video is only 3 seconds long, so have no fear about loading time.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-ZQaIsqp5xI

Have some fun and enjoy the video, but think critically about it.

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    $\begingroup$ Poor cute little hamster, did he survive that ... :-/? $\endgroup$ – Dilaton Jul 27 '13 at 22:20
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    $\begingroup$ I would guess yes, I mean consider how rodents can survive falling from trees. They don't generate that much kinetic energy. $\endgroup$ – Klik Jul 27 '13 at 22:54
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    $\begingroup$ The hamster was running backwards. $\endgroup$ – Keep these mind Jul 27 '13 at 22:59
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Note that the hamster is initially stationary.

I find it physiologically and neurologically doubtful that the hamster could and would accelerate and launch itself like that.

I propose that the physics solution is: The hamster was running backwards.

Note that hamsters are quite good at running backwards.

Many species of hamster are very fast at running so that they are able to escape from oncoming predators. Due to the shape and size of the hind feet of the hamster, hamsters are often able to run as quickly backwards as they can forwards, which the allows the hamsters to escape easily in their burrows.

Source

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It seems that some outside influence abruptly stopped the wheel. So the hamster is not "messing up his footing", it is rather the hamster's continued running that launched him.

It might be no coincidence that the video has too poor resolution to see the wheel spinning. Somehow I am suspicious that the wheel was electrically driven and equipped with a braking mechanism. The makers of the video could get the hamster running ever faster by gradually increasing the speed of the wheel. I am not sure, but people do very sick things in attempts to get their videos on youtube going viral.

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    $\begingroup$ If what you suspect is true, this would be a very cruel and not funny at all joke ... :-/ $\endgroup$ – Dilaton Jul 28 '13 at 9:03
  • $\begingroup$ Very interesting idea. It would explain the forces seen in this video. It also does seem odd the way the camera was focused on the hamster seemingly waiting for something to happen. I won't accept this as an answer just yet so as to encourage other answers. $\endgroup$ – Klik Jul 29 '13 at 0:22

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