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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  • CIA
    CIA 17 hours ago

    Dropping slayer to the ground to make an earthquake.....sounds legit!!

  • P i x e l W a x
    P i x e l W a x 20 days ago

    I'm no ot sure how I got here, but I'm sure glad that I did.

  • Truki Mai
    Truki Mai 24 days ago

    How far away are the tremors felt when the ball hits the ground from that high?

  • Fabian Kastilan
    Fabian Kastilan 1 months ago+1

    Your camera really was rolling 😂😂

  • malicious gamer
    malicious gamer 1 months ago

    I'll build you for science. ;-)

  • Sayam Qazi
    Sayam Qazi 2 months ago

    So when did they drop the ball?

  • ThatCowGuy
    ThatCowGuy 2 months ago

    Oh nice, you even went to Göttingen. You really get around the Globe :)

  • Romke de Boer
    Romke de Boer 3 months ago

    And than to think the British dropped 2 tonne bombs during the second world war...

  • Dsa Reyy
    Dsa Reyy 3 months ago

    This is so German that English sounds like German.

  • Huzufu
    Huzufu 3 months ago+1

    Imagine standing underneath that...

  • Mike
    Mike 3 months ago

    Am I the only one who expected a for ton metal ball would be bigger?
    I dont know why btw...

  • Michael Kijewsji
    Michael Kijewsji 4 months ago

    hydraulic press 1800's style

  • Jaetpack
    Jaetpack 4 months ago


  • Demonwithin
    Demonwithin 4 months ago

    Drop a Maus

  • ThatMCGamer
    ThatMCGamer 4 months ago

    I don’t know why but I felt that ball hit the ground.

  • Dr. Orpheus
    Dr. Orpheus 4 months ago

    I wish this video was longer. Could you feel the ground shake at all when the ball hit?

  • Lues
    Lues 4 months ago

    Way to freak out the neighbours

  • Rennie Ash
    Rennie Ash 4 months ago

    I was going to make a joke about this, but I didn't have the balls

  • IanVelesGDツ
    IanVelesGDツ 4 months ago+1

    Just drop a Nokia 3310 and it makes a bigger earthquake

  • qbe
    qbe 4 months ago

    cool i live there