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 • 663

  • d3u1d4e
    d3u1d4e 20 days ago

    This would be a much more interesting way to celebrate the new year than that Times Square ball "drop" spectacle.

  • alex Marshall
    alex Marshall 20 days ago

    What a brilliant and really informative video..just enough to want to know more..keep it up!!⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐👍👜

  • No Fortnite
    No Fortnite 27 days ago +1


  • 26b
    26b Month ago +1

    Ohh thats only 16 kilometers from us. I never thought I would see a video about it.

  • Carry On Travelling

    @howridiculous ... take note, up your atlas stone game

  • Ivan Ortega
    Ivan Ortega Month ago +1

    "Arigato.... Gyro"

    • Scerdofeb
      Scerdofeb 27 days ago +1

      is this the true power of ball breaker?

  • Levi Powell
    Levi Powell Month ago

    How ridiculous took this a step further and put something under the ball and dropped it from even higher up

  • owenbevt3
    owenbevt3 Month ago

    and to think in the UK the kind people at fracking companys provide earthquakes for free.

  • vlogandplayroblox
    vlogandplayroblox Month ago


  • Naviron Ghost
    Naviron Ghost Month ago +2

    3:20 "Hey Tom, is that our expensive camera under the falling 4-tonne steel ball?"

  • قناة ماهر maher channel

    Video starts at 3:10 but only watch for 2 seconds or you'll hear the weird laugh

  • mrfoodarama
    mrfoodarama Month ago

    Really fascinating, excellent video as always Tom !

  • WarBerJr02
    WarBerJr02 2 months ago

    I don't understand - how did Mintrop's technique for measuring earthquakes equate to a license for printing money?

    • Shirokröte
      Shirokröte 2 months ago

      It's a proverb.
      If you can control the seismograph, you can easily measure oilfields which back then was the best way to get rich. So Mintrop's machine was very, very valuable.

  • ICantThinkOfAUsername
    ICantThinkOfAUsername 2 months ago

    This reminds me of Jurassic Park when they fire a bullet into the ground to scan for dinosaur skeletons

  • Syed
    Syed 2 months ago

    This thing is quieter than my laptop on load

  • Jan Zacharias
    Jan Zacharias 3 months ago +1

    The german writing on the wall in the beginning roughly translates to: "You can hear the moving rocks from far away - Read the signs!"

  • xyzct
    xyzct 3 months ago

    The earth science building at UC Berkeley housed one of the old German seismographs. As a geophysics student there, I used to change the smoked paper every day.

  • Jackie Arklof
    Jackie Arklof 4 months ago

    Min drop

  • Nameless Guy
    Nameless Guy 5 months ago

    For CYAN

  • Noah Aubrey Linus Sorensen


  • Pixo Bit
    Pixo Bit 6 months ago

    Hallo an alle anderen Göttinger da draußen :D

  • Radicrash
    Radicrash 6 months ago

    what about a golf ball going at light speed?

  • Argie Fag
    Argie Fag 6 months ago

    But what would happen if you spin it?

  • Stuff We Play
    Stuff We Play 6 months ago

    I guess you could say...Tom really dropped the ball here :)

  • Our holy Lord and savior
    Our holy Lord and savior 6 months ago +1

    Ball drops 3:10

  • Sharqo Edits
    Sharqo Edits 6 months ago

    666th comment

  • myfatassdick
    myfatassdick 6 months ago

    Wouldnt something need to be calibrated every few years because the hole is getting deeper and deeper

  • Zaman productions
    Zaman productions 6 months ago

    The soot thing with the paper is just genius

    MATAM 6 months ago

    Göttingen?! It's a 55km distance from me.

  • DouBLe
    DouBLe 6 months ago

    I live in Germany and holy grail, have we got earth quakes around here...

  • Dornix Rex
    Dornix Rex 6 months ago

    That wasnt any earthquake un thing happened😒

  • RandomStuffOnVideo
    RandomStuffOnVideo 7 months ago

    Imagine dropping that on someone's head.

  • Heck Frick
    Heck Frick 7 months ago

    Now drop a 10 ton ball from a sky scraper.

  • CIA
    CIA 8 months 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 8 months ago

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

  • Truki Mai
    Truki Mai 8 months ago

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

  • Fabian Kastilan
    Fabian Kastilan 9 months ago +1

    Your camera really was rolling 😂😂

  • malicious gamer
    malicious gamer 9 months ago

    I'll build you for science. ;-)

  • Sayam Qazi
    Sayam Qazi 10 months ago

    So when did they drop the ball?

  • ThatCowGuy
    ThatCowGuy 11 months ago

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

  • Romke de Boer
    Romke de Boer 11 months ago

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

  • Dsa Reyy
    Dsa Reyy 11 months ago

    This is so German that English sounds like German.

  • Huzufu
    Huzufu 11 months ago +1

    Imagine standing underneath that...

  • Mike
    Mike 11 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 Year ago

    hydraulic press 1800's style

  • Jaetpack
    Jaetpack Year ago


  • Demonwithin
    Demonwithin Year ago

    Drop a Maus

  • ThatMCGamer
    ThatMCGamer Year ago

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

  • ThirdWorldEuroTrash

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

  • Alexander Andersson

    Way to freak out the neighbours

  • Rennie Ash
    Rennie Ash Year ago

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

  • IanVelesツ
    IanVelesツ Year ago +1

    Just drop a Nokia 3310 and it makes a bigger earthquake

  • qbe
    qbe Year ago

    cool i live there

  • Gabriel Gonzalez
    Gabriel Gonzalez Year ago

    Disliked for no side video of impact

  • Nintendoom64
    Nintendoom64 Year ago +1

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

  • jutubaeh
    jutubaeh Year ago

    didnt even chöw elöngajün --.--

  • jutubaeh
    jutubaeh Year ago

    that thing still wouldnt make carböhn shine -.-

  • jutubaeh
    jutubaeh Year ago

    nö cömp tö drempldrüff steäll ^ ^

  • jutubaeh
    jutubaeh Year ago

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

  • Don House
    Don House Year ago

    What was size of equake?

  • Brian Wyters
    Brian Wyters Year ago

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

  • David DE LOOSE
    David DE LOOSE Year ago

    Was this filmed in the suicide forest

  • Anderson Aldo
    Anderson Aldo Year 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 RF
    Nugroho RF Year ago

    I cant even imagine if I have balls weighted 4 tonnes

  • Ambrose
    Ambrose Year ago

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

  • Golpheox
    Golpheox Year ago +1

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

  • Simon Meyer
    Simon Meyer Year 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 Year ago

    I do this every time i sit down

  • Ay Ay
    Ay Ay Year ago

    Pee waves

  • Louie Green
    Louie Green Year ago

    Lucky it didn't get melted down

  • vonbrigð i
    vonbrigð i Year ago +2

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

    • Ruben Fasola
      Ruben Fasola 7 months ago

      you can record the earthquakes from italy tho, we have quite a bit of them :D

    • Henry Reusch
      Henry Reusch Year ago

      vonbrigð i thats not true

  • owen finney
    owen finney Year 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.

  • Squinja
    Squinja Year ago

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

  • AngryVitamins
    AngryVitamins Year ago

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

  • Ole Joonge
    Ole Joonge Year 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 Year ago

    That steel ball must have cost a fourtonne...

  • Jack Hudner
    Jack Hudner Year ago

    That ball looks tiny for 4 tonnes.

  • RazerXnitro
    RazerXnitro Year ago

    What if you drop a 20 tonne ball?

  • Lost Evesy
    Lost Evesy Year ago

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

  • Peekadam
    Peekadam Year ago

    "He was allowed to use DYNAMITE."

  • KiloByte
    KiloByte Year ago

    This doesn't look safe at all.

  • hera ok
    hera ok Year ago

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

  • Awol991
    Awol991 Year ago

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

  • Juan Pablo Ossa Zapata

    eastwind device

  • Alpy Boi
    Alpy Boi Year ago

    That Feeling when your balls drop.

  • MGB 72UK
    MGB 72UK Year ago

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

  • MickyAvStickyHands

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

  • David Stunning
    David Stunning Year ago

    or just make an explosion with tannerite

  • J I Means
    J I Means Year 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 Year ago

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

  • zeckmon3
    zeckmon3 Year ago

    50 ton steel ballz pls

  • Curtis Y
    Curtis Y Year ago

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

  • Hayden Lau
    Hayden Lau Year ago

    I'm sure they made many groundbreaking discoveries there

  • SKARE Audio
    SKARE Audio Year ago

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

  • Gordon Freeman
    Gordon Freeman Year 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 Year ago

    imagine if it started to roll away

  • TheBushdoctor68
    TheBushdoctor68 Year 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.

  • amazing_dude
    amazing_dude Year ago +1

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

  • Kafka Esk
    Kafka Esk Year 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