Making Artificial Earthquakes with a Four-Tonne Steel Ball

  • Published on Feb 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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Comments • 632

  • Michael Kijewsji
    Michael Kijewsji 12 days ago

    hydraulic press 1800's style

  • Jaetpack
    Jaetpack 16 days ago


  • Demonwithin
    Demonwithin 17 days ago

    Drop a Maus

  • ThatMCGamer
    ThatMCGamer 19 days ago

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

  • Dr. Orpheus
    Dr. Orpheus 20 days ago

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

  • Lues
    Lues 21 day ago

    Way to freak out the neighbours

  • Rennie Ash
    Rennie Ash 21 day ago

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

  • IanVelesGDツ
    IanVelesGDツ 23 days ago +1

    Just drop a Nokia 3310 and it makes a bigger earthquake

  • qbe
    qbe 24 days ago

    cool i live there

  • Gabriel Gonzalez
    Gabriel Gonzalez 24 days ago

    Disliked for no side video of impact

  • Nintendoom64
    Nintendoom64 25 days ago +1

    "somewhere in Germany there's a slowly growing hill." Haha, that's great.

  • jutubaeh
    jutubaeh Month ago

    didnt even chöw elöngajün --.--

  • jutubaeh
    jutubaeh Month ago

    that thing still wouldnt make carböhn shine -.-

  • jutubaeh
    jutubaeh Month ago

    nö cömp tö drempldrüff steäll ^ ^

  • jutubaeh
    jutubaeh Month ago

    why did i ´´nö´´ id wöz in Görrmänni -.-

  • Don House
    Don House Month ago

    What was size of equake?

  • Brian Wyters
    Brian Wyters Month ago

    There should be a youtube channel that does 4 tonne steel ball vs __________.

  • David DE LOOSE
    David DE LOOSE Month ago

    Was this filmed in the suicide forest

  • Anderson Aldo
    Anderson Aldo Month ago +1

    Shitest video I've ever seen.

  • Nmotsch idontwannagivemyrealname

    Hearing about P-waves and S-waves gives me stress flashbacks to 8th grade Earth Science class

  • Nugroho Rahmat Fitriyanto

    I cant even imagine if I have balls weighted 4 tonnes

  • easy
    easy Month ago

    what is with the red line or triangle you have on some videos but not others?

  • Golpheox
    Golpheox Month ago +1

    Is this why outside my house in Australia there is a hill that keeps growing bigger everyday?

  • Simon Meyer
    Simon Meyer Month ago

    I was there a couple of years ago... and thats the reaction to that feeling of the ball hitting the ground: you just laugh, or just make a "WOW"

  • Sam Oh.fficial
    Sam Oh.fficial Month ago

    I do this every time i sit down

  • Ay Ay
    Ay Ay Month ago

    Pee waves

  • Louie Green
    Louie Green Month ago

    Lucky it didn't get melted down

  • vonbrigð i
    vonbrigð i Month ago +2

    Wait....but there aren’t even earthquakes in Germany

  • owen finney
    owen finney 2 months ago

    only one scene of it unchanging hitting the ground and thats from directly above it :(
    you had the camera angles i dont see why you didnt use them.

  • Faximus Prime The Cool
    Faximus Prime The Cool 2 months ago

    *M A K E T H E G R O U N D S H A K E*

  • AngryVitamins
    AngryVitamins 2 months ago

    why isnt this used for execution? crushing their heads will be a sure instant kill

  • Ole Joonge
    Ole Joonge 2 months ago

    I've been living under half a mile away from that ball for 6 years now and if only seen or heard it twice (one of the times being in this video).
    I'm surprised that you found out about this and they let you drop the ball

  • TheToasties1
    TheToasties1 2 months ago

    That steel ball must have cost a fourtonne...

  • Jack Hudner
    Jack Hudner 2 months ago

    That ball looks tiny for 4 tonnes.

  • RazerXnitro
    RazerXnitro 2 months ago

    What if you drop a 20 tonne ball?

  • Lost Evesy
    Lost Evesy 2 months ago

    Can we see what marks that drop left on the paper ?

  • Peekadam
    Peekadam 2 months ago

    "He was allowed to use DYNAMITE."

  • KiloByte
    KiloByte 2 months ago

    This doesn't look safe at all.

  • hera ok
    hera ok 2 months ago

    Ah I am so lucky not to be that one little insect where the 4 ton drops

  • Awol991
    Awol991 2 months ago

    I see a whole line of "will it crush" videos using this ball.

  • Juan Pablo Ossa Zapata
    Juan Pablo Ossa Zapata 2 months ago

    eastwind device

  • flo92002
    flo92002 2 months ago

    That Feeling when your balls drop.

  • MGB 72UK
    MGB 72UK 2 months ago

    I would have bullied this guy so badly in school. Great video.

  • MickyAvStickyHands
    MickyAvStickyHands 2 months ago

    Everyone in Mexico who isn't Mexican is referred to as the "Crazy [Something]".

  • David Stunning
    David Stunning 2 months ago

    or just make an explosion with tannerite

  • J I Means
    J I Means 2 months ago

    I have been a silent fan of yours. I collect trivia. I love watching videos like this one because you give a lot of understandable information that even a nitwit (me) can grasp. Thank you.

    REMOTEBEAR 2 months ago

    um the camera angle was very annoying. did not get to really see it.

  • zeckmon3 zeckee
    zeckmon3 zeckee 2 months ago

    50 ton steel ballz pls

  • Curtis Y
    Curtis Y 2 months ago

    its so cool a ball that size weighs as much as 2 cars

  • Hayden Lau
    Hayden Lau 2 months ago

    I'm sure they made many groundbreaking discoveries there

  • SKARE Audio
    SKARE Audio 2 months ago

    Wouldn't that be a tremor? Not an earthquake?

  • Gordon Freeman
    Gordon Freeman 2 months ago

    I feel like you could have got a better shot of the ball hitting the ground, instead of using the one where the camera falls down, as it is, it just doesn't work.
    Sure, the camera fell over, but you may as well had dropped the camera and the result wouldn't have been much different.
    Dunno, this video wasn't as good as your previous ones, the smoked paper part was more interesting.

  • Steven Ratmansky
    Steven Ratmansky 2 months ago

    imagine if it started to roll away

  • TheBushdoctor68
    TheBushdoctor68 2 months ago

    I wonder why that ball isn't perfectly round and has a flattened surface. As meticulous as Germans are, I can't imagine it's an imperfection. It has to have some use.

  • amazingdude l
    amazingdude l 2 months ago +1

    I really dont understand and I keep *shaking* my head

  • Kafka Esk
    Kafka Esk 2 months ago

    This is so random, until recently I used to work in the school that is in one of the old university buildings right next to this institution, the whole compound is a bit remote..
    Also i saw some of his videos before, and now I stumble up on this, with this guy just walking around in that pace..
    so random :D

  • Don Juan
    Don Juan 2 months ago

    @Tom Scott I love your content, but this time you forget to mention that there a actually 4 types of waves in the ground. You mentioned just the shearwave an compression wave but there is also a Raleigh wave (sometimes called surface wave) an a so calles Love wave. Look it up.
    Keep on doing this amazing Channel!!

  • Abhinav Satyavanshi
    Abhinav Satyavanshi 2 months ago

    Seismic station guy sounds like alan rickman.....

  • Asgardium - Tomclanys
    Asgardium - Tomclanys 2 months ago

    I love it how you can really "see" the mass of the ball, just by how slowly it accelerates towards the earth! It has that "heavy feel" to it

  • Der Eggad
    Der Eggad 2 months ago

    Wow, you should have said you're coming to Göttingen, it's like 10 minutes from where I live.

  • Kilian Orysik
    Kilian Orysik 2 months ago

    My Hometown 😍👌

  • three hats official
    three hats official 2 months ago

    I'd try you catch it

  • Karroll Paulo Rondina
    Karroll Paulo Rondina 2 months ago

    Pee Waves xD

  • Adarsh D.H
    Adarsh D.H 2 months ago

    Why that many angles ?it ruined it just like the fireworks

  • Elijah
    Elijah 2 months ago +1

    would anyone stand under that watch it drop and hurry up a move out of the way for 1 million

  • One Wear Reviews
    One Wear Reviews 3 months ago

    you're telling me that 22 inch diameter ball is 8800 lbs

  • Sune Houlind
    Sune Houlind 3 months ago

    guess who else had the nickname "the crazy german"

  • dasBunny
    dasBunny 3 months ago

    My physics teacher lives like next door from this....

  • Tepp Sco
    Tepp Sco 3 months ago

    There seem to be loads of Germans in the comments here. Do any of you know if there is a German equivalent to Tom Scott's Might Not Have Known videos? I'd like to broaden my subscriptions.

  • swiss
    swiss 3 months ago

    Now imagine what it must feel like if the 7100 kg AP projectile from the 800mm railway gun "Schwerer Gustav" impacts the ground next to you. No explosion, just over 1.5 Giga-Joules of pure kinetic energy penetrating the ground up to a depth of 32m.

  • Steve Chisnall
    Steve Chisnall 3 months ago

    You mentioned P waves and S waves, but what about L waves?

  • Andy Parsons
    Andy Parsons 3 months ago

    How did you get it back to the UK 😉😉

  • Matthew Ireson
    Matthew Ireson 3 months ago


  • Hashterix
    Hashterix 3 months ago

    Did you set off that earthquake in the Bristol channel earlier, Tom?

  • Wario Number One
    Wario Number One 3 months ago

    I expect a video on జ్ఞా soon enough

  • St Merkel Of Migrant
    St Merkel Of Migrant 3 months ago

    Actually thats a WW2 torture device

  • M. S. L.
    M. S. L. 3 months ago

    You used rope to pick it up?

  • Timo
    Timo 3 months ago

    Just recently discoverey your channel and I gotta say, good thing I did. Don't think I ever learned so many interesting things in such a short time, even about my home county (germany). Kudos to you, looking forward to more of your videos.

  • Valentin Windel
    Valentin Windel 3 months ago

    i live about 10 minutes away from that facility

  • MrTichoify
    MrTichoify 3 months ago

    4 ton ball with what looked like thin rope??? 🤔

  • Admiral Percy
    Admiral Percy 3 months ago

    That was the license to print money?

  • Jeff Warnica
    Jeff Warnica 3 months ago

    There is a story here about Benkelman Beam, and Dynaflect, perhaps even Porctor. But those may be for @engineerguy or @practical engineering

  • Rufius Millennium
    Rufius Millennium 3 months ago


  • sdrawkcab190
    sdrawkcab190 3 months ago

    How come you didn't show the impact from the third camera view as well? :(

  • Frank Harr
    Frank Harr 3 months ago

    It's too bad it's metric tonnes. Lone tons would have been heavier.

  • Shmacked Muffins
    Shmacked Muffins 3 months ago

    Stop tea bagging mother earth.

  • Jessie Bullock
    Jessie Bullock 3 months ago

    Congrats on trending!

  • Evan Greenlee
    Evan Greenlee 3 months ago

    That ball is dented asf

  • Tori Hehehehe
    Tori Hehehehe 3 months ago how do I incorporate this into my life ?

  • Michael Bryant
    Michael Bryant 3 months ago +1

    My gf makes artificial earthquakes.
    She’s huge.

  • Kate Peterson
    Kate Peterson 3 months ago

    The "I told you so" at the end has me dying xD

  • Rexmu
    Rexmu 3 months ago

    Why are you damaging the Earth on purpose?

  • Salt!and Pepper
    Salt!and Pepper 3 months ago

    that ball looks like that match ball made out of like 43,000 matches that All is Art set on fire.

  • savage t Aesthetic Knight


  • zanderboy
    zanderboy 3 months ago

    after all that waiting you didn't even get any good footage of the thing falling and hitting the ground.

  • Unity
    Unity 3 months ago

    Look into HAARP, they can make news worthy earthquakes and hurricanes, we’ve had that technology for a long time now.

  • Theo Kirkley
    Theo Kirkley 3 months ago

    Check out the flat earth theory

  • Little Prince
    Little Prince 3 months ago


  • Little Prince
    Little Prince 3 months ago


  • CooterCoy
    CooterCoy 3 months ago

    This reminds me of when my balls dropped.