So many questions, right?
Watch this video. Class is about to be in session.
First, we’ll take a deep dive into the science at work here. Spoiler alert: Newton and some laws he thought up will be invoked.
Next, we’ll explore the nuts and bolts of how a world-renowned stunt team pulled this off and, more importantly, why. Additional spoiler alert: These guys ain’t from around here.
Why don’t aerialists fly off? Guesses
We caught up with the viral video originally on Twitter. A little digging on the googler machine led us to a total of three different edits of essentially the same short video featuring the aerial acrobatics of what appeared to be a few bored farm boys.
Either this is a new type of combine harvester we are not familiar with, or someone has way too much time on their hands.
What initially struck us and most viewers (judging from the comment sections following the videos) is how are these guys not flying off the trampoline and tractor bed? When they bounce up into the air, how do they land again on the moving trampoline and not, say, a half-acre back down the road?
Inherently, most of us know there is probably some ‘sciencey’ stuff involved here. Gravity, physics, “an object in motion remains in motion…something, something, something.” Right?
It’s embarrassing to admit how much we don't know or can’t recall years after high school graduation. Don’t worry, you are not alone. Hardly anyone commenting on these internet videos offered definitive answers either.
“The video is clearly fake,” blurted Anthony Hildoer.
“You are in the same frame of inertia when you bounce,” added GooRee on Twitter.
Frame of inertia. OK, that sounds impressively plausible.
Several commenters referenced what happens when traveling on a train or a place. Or, better yet, what doesn’t happen.
Drop a carryon from the overhead bin in first class and it will likely land on your toe, not fly all the way back to cheap seats at the rear lavatory, even though the plane is doing, like, 500 mph. That was how True Vanguard put it on Twitter.
True enough. We’ve actually seen this happen.
StarTalk’s two cents included a train analogy. We’ve all seen enough action movies to know if you jump off a train, you are carrying that speed, that momentum, when you hit the ground. So, you better be ready to tuck and roll.
Basically, the smarter comments gravitated around the notion that: Relative to the trampoline, bouncers are traveling only up and down. If no wind resistance is encountered (notice the two walls on either end of the trampoline) the aerialists will continue to travel the exact same speed as the tractor pulling them.
But why, exactly?
Why Don’t Aerialists Fly Off? Facts
Twitter user Cheska commented on the video with: “I taught y’all this in physics class.”
We went straight to an authority on the subject: Mr. Garrick Hart’s AP Physics class at Jackson Hole High School. Mr. Hart’s seniors had little trouble solving this one.
“Newton’s first law of motion states that an object at rest remains at rest, or, if in motion, remains in motion at a constant velocity unless acted on by a net external force,” began a class email sent to Cowboy State Daily after Mr. Hart showed the video to his class.
“The person jumping on the trampoline does not fall off the back of the trailer because their forward velocity is equal to that of the tractor, and there are no significant horizontal forces acting on him to change that," the class wrote.
Acceleration, gravity, relative motion also come into play rolled into a formula (f = ma), where f is force, m is mass, and a is acceleration or velocity.
“Air resistance would be the only thing that could change [the bouncer’s] horizontal velocity, but that is blocked by those two wooden barriers,” the high school class continued.
“Only the vertical forces of gravity (down) and the force of the trampoline (up) act on him. This is also why you can jump up and down on a trampoline in your yard without flying off, even though your yard is on the earth which is hauling through space at roughly 67,000 mph.”
Not to mention the earth’s rotation, which is approximately 1,000 mph. And we haven’t even touched upon parabolic path or quantum mechanics.
Dizzy yet? Imagine the guys doing the jumping.
Brainiacs or Maniacs?
And just who are the guys pulling off this wacky stunt? Well, first off, they are professionals. Do not try this at home, kids.
The Dunkin’ Devils are an acrobatic team from Slovenia. They have performed more than 1,400 live events in 43 countries. In fact, they were just in Dallas last week.
The squad performs primarily aerial basketball stunts involving trick dunking and a whole lot of what they refer to in their motto as the only one true direction: Up.
Dunkin’ Devils Squad’s Gašper Novak and Jan Žnidaršič were kind enough shrug off the 8-hour time difference in order to share their experience with Cowboy State Daily via teleconference from their home base in Cerknica, Slovenia.
Novak and Žnidaršič confirmed the video is real. It was not faked in any way. In truth, it took quite a bit of practice.
The videos circulating on social media are all from one shoot in May 2019. While the video package certainly works as an ingenious marketing tool, its genesis is actually much more jejune.
What, When, Why, Where?
The Dunkin Devils are kind of a big deal in Slovenia. So, when a carnival came to Cerknica that spring in 2019, Novak and Žnidaršič decided they would put on a special show for their adoring home town fans. The video was basically an afterthought, the result of their recorded practice run prior to their live performance, which did not involve anything being towed by farm equipment.
The trailer towed behind the tractor is actually a stage built specifically for this carnival show. The idea to try out some tricks while rolling just kind of fell into place since Novak and Žnidaršič are good friends with the tractor driver.
Contrary to expert speculation, DD Squad did not make the walls with the intention of blocking wind. They are used solely for staging during the stationery trampoline show. It did help cut down on wind resistance that could contribute to blowing jumpers off course, but the acrobatic team says they really weren’t necessary for that.
“We tried it out without any walls at first and it is still pretty doable,” Novak said, even with the tractor doing a max speed of 30 mph in the video.
Stunts are part experiment, part practice
The members of the team standing on the trampoline bed in some of the shots help the bouncers achieve bigger air by what is called a “double bouncing” technique.
Some of what DD Squad does, like this video stunt, is experimental and the result of careful trial-and-error. But more science goes into it than one might think. Let’s just say, these kids aren’t out to intentionally kill themselves.
“Most of our stuff is trial-and-error but we do have on our team people who study physics, engineering, and the science of performing these tricks. We combine all this knowledge to predict what is going to happen and then test things out,” Novak said.
“It’s trial and error to some level,” Žnidaršič interjected, “but we go step-by-step so any errors in the beginning are small, safe, and manageable. Then we add layers of complexity until we are confident we can do the trick without error.”
The acrobats were in contact with the tractor driver at all times to make sure a consistent speed was maintained. The driver could also report back with important intel like: ”Running out of road soon.”
Once ready, the production team used a drone and stationery camera to capture the results.
And now you know, as Paul Harvey once made famous, the rest of the story.
Jake Nichols can be reached at: Jake@CowboyStateDaily.com