1Q50.90 - Maxwell's Tops

Code Number:
Demo Title:
Maxwell's Tops
Area of Study:
Maxwell's Tops.

This is a demonstration of stability about a pivot point.  One of the tops has a pivot point above the center of mass and is stable on the pivot whether it is spinning or not.  The other has the pivot point below the center of mass and is therefore only stable when spinning.

  • Adolf Cortel, "Conservation of Angular Momentum with a Plastic Dish", TPT, Vol. 42, # 2, Feb. 2004, p. 122.
  • Mu-13,  Freier and Anderson,  A Demonstration Handbook for Physics.
  • "1.108, Diabolos", The Flying Circus of Physics, p. 53.

Disclaimer: These demonstrations are provided only for illustrative use by persons affiliated with The University of Iowa and only under the direction of a trained instructor or physicist.  The University of Iowa is not responsible for demonstrations performed by those using their own equipment or who choose to use this reference material for their own purpose.  The demonstrations included here are within the public domain and can be found in materials contained in libraries, bookstores, and through electronic sources.  Performing all or any portion of any of these demonstrations, with or without revisions not depicted here entails inherent risks.  These risks include, without limitation, bodily injury (and possibly death), including risks to health that may be temporary or permanent and that may exacerbate a pre-existing medical condition; and property loss or damage.  Anyone performing any part of these demonstrations, even with revisions, knowingly and voluntarily assumes all risks associated with them.