If a chain is initially at rest in a beaker at a height h1 above the ground, and the end of the chain is pulled over the rim of the beaker and down towards the ground and then released, the chain will spontaneously ‘flow’ out of the beaker under gravity. Furthermore, the beads do not simply drag over the edge of the beaker but form a fountain reaching a height h2 above it. We show that the formation of a fountain requires that the beads come into motion not only by being pulled upwards by the part of the chain immediately above the pile, but also by being pushed upwards by an anomalous reaction force from the pile of stationary chain. We propose possible origins for this force, argue that its magnitude will be proportional to the square of the chain velocity and predict and verify experimentally that h2∝h1.
- Received October 15, 2013.
- Accepted December 2, 2013.
- © 2014 The Author(s) Published by the Royal Society. All rights reserved.