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 • 679

  • xyzct
    xyzct 22 days 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.

  • Skurken Affe
    Skurken Affe Month ago

    Min drop

  • Nameless Guy
    Nameless Guy 2 months ago

    For CYAN

  • Noah Aubrey Linus Sorensen


  • Pixo Bit
    Pixo Bit 2 months ago

    Hallo an alle anderen Göttinger da draußen :D

  • Radicrash
    Radicrash 3 months ago

    what about a golf ball going at light speed?

  • Argie Fag
    Argie Fag 3 months ago

    But what would happen if you spin it?

  • Stuff We Play
    Stuff We Play 3 months ago

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

  • Our holy Lord and savior
    Our holy Lord and savior 3 months ago +1

    Ball drops 3:10

  • Sharqo Edits
    Sharqo Edits 3 months ago

    666th comment

  • myfatassdick
    myfatassdick 3 months ago

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

  • Zaman productions
    Zaman productions 3 months ago

    The soot thing with the paper is just genius

    MATAM 3 months ago

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

  • DouBLe
    DouBLe 3 months ago

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

  • Dornix Rex
    Dornix Rex 3 months ago

    That wasnt any earthquake un thing happened😒

  • RandomStuffOnVideo
    RandomStuffOnVideo 4 months ago

    Imagine dropping that on someone's head.

  • Heck Frick
    Heck Frick 4 months ago

    Now drop a 10 ton ball from a sky scraper.

  • CIA
    CIA 5 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 5 months ago

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

  • Truki Mai
    Truki Mai 5 months ago

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

  • Fabian Kastilan
    Fabian Kastilan 6 months ago +1

    Your camera really was rolling 😂😂

  • malicious gamer
    malicious gamer 6 months ago

    I'll build you for science. ;-)

  • Sayam Qazi
    Sayam Qazi 7 months ago

    So when did they drop the ball?

  • ThatCowGuy
    ThatCowGuy 7 months ago

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

  • Romke de Boer
    Romke de Boer 8 months ago

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

  • Dsa Reyy
    Dsa Reyy 8 months ago

    This is so German that English sounds like German.

  • Huzufu
    Huzufu 8 months ago +1

    Imagine standing underneath that...

  • Mike
    Mike 8 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 9 months ago

    hydraulic press 1800's style

  • Jaetpack
    Jaetpack 9 months ago


  • Demonwithin
    Demonwithin 9 months ago

    Drop a Maus

  • ThatMCGamer
    ThatMCGamer 9 months ago

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

  • ThirdWorldEuroTrash
    ThirdWorldEuroTrash 9 months ago

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

  • Lues
    Lues 9 months ago

    Way to freak out the neighbours

  • Rennie Ash
    Rennie Ash 9 months ago

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

  • IanVelesツ
    IanVelesツ 9 months ago +1

    Just drop a Nokia 3310 and it makes a bigger earthquake

  • qbe
    qbe 9 months ago

    cool i live there

  • Gabriel Gonzalez
    Gabriel Gonzalez 9 months ago

    Disliked for no side video of impact

  • Nintendoom64
    Nintendoom64 9 months ago +1

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

  • jutubaeh
    jutubaeh 10 months ago

    didnt even chöw elöngajün --.--

  • jutubaeh
    jutubaeh 10 months ago

    that thing still wouldnt make carböhn shine -.-

  • jutubaeh
    jutubaeh 10 months ago

    nö cömp tö drempldrüff steäll ^ ^

  • jutubaeh
    jutubaeh 10 months ago

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

  • Don House
    Don House 10 months ago

    What was size of equake?

  • Brian Wyters
    Brian Wyters 10 months ago

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

  • David DE LOOSE
    David DE LOOSE 10 months ago

    Was this filmed in the suicide forest

  • Anderson Aldo
    Anderson Aldo 10 months 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 10 months ago

    I cant even imagine if I have balls weighted 4 tonnes

  • Ambrose
    Ambrose 10 months ago

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

  • Golpheox
    Golpheox 10 months ago +1

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

  • Simon Meyer
    Simon Meyer 10 months 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 10 months ago

    I do this every time i sit down

  • Ay Ay
    Ay Ay 10 months ago

    Pee waves

  • Louie Green
    Louie Green 10 months ago

    Lucky it didn't get melted down

  • vonbrigð i
    vonbrigð i 10 months ago +2

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

    • Ruben Fasola
      Ruben Fasola 4 months ago

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

    • Henry Reusch
      Henry Reusch 10 months ago

      vonbrigð i thats not true

  • owen finney
    owen finney 10 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.

  • Squinja
    Squinja 11 months ago

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

  • AngryVitamins
    AngryVitamins 11 months ago

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

  • Ole Joonge
    Ole Joonge 11 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 11 months ago

    That steel ball must have cost a fourtonne...

  • Jack Hudner
    Jack Hudner 11 months ago

    That ball looks tiny for 4 tonnes.

  • RazerXnitro
    RazerXnitro 11 months ago

    What if you drop a 20 tonne ball?

  • Lost Evesy
    Lost Evesy 11 months ago

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

  • Peekadam
    Peekadam 11 months ago

    "He was allowed to use DYNAMITE."

  • KiloByte
    KiloByte 11 months ago

    This doesn't look safe at all.

  • hera ok
    hera ok 11 months ago

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

  • Awol991
    Awol991 11 months ago

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

  • Juan Pablo Ossa Zapata
    Juan Pablo Ossa Zapata 11 months ago

    eastwind device

  • Alpy Boi
    Alpy Boi 11 months ago

    That Feeling when your balls drop.

  • MGB 72UK
    MGB 72UK 11 months ago

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

  • MickyAvStickyHands
    MickyAvStickyHands 11 months ago

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

  • David Stunning
    David Stunning 11 months ago

    or just make an explosion with tannerite

  • J I Means
    J I Means 11 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 11 months ago

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

  • zeckmon3
    zeckmon3 11 months ago

    50 ton steel ballz pls

  • Curtis Y
    Curtis Y 11 months ago

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

  • Hayden Lau
    Hayden Lau 11 months ago

    I'm sure they made many groundbreaking discoveries there

  • SKARE Audio
    SKARE Audio 11 months ago

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

  • Gordon Freeman
    Gordon Freeman 11 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 11 months ago

    imagine if it started to roll away

  • TheBushdoctor68
    TheBushdoctor68 11 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.

  • amazing_dude
    amazing_dude 11 months ago +1

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

  • Kafka Esk
    Kafka Esk 11 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 11 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 11 months ago

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

  • Asgardium - Tomclanys
    Asgardium - Tomclanys 11 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 11 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 11 months ago

    My Hometown 😍👌

  • subscribe to pewdiepie
    subscribe to pewdiepie 11 months ago

    I'd try you catch it

  • Meme_RBLXFXRobloxianOof18 RBLX

    Pee Waves xD

  • Frost D.H
    Frost D.H 11 months ago

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

  • Elijah
    Elijah 11 months ago +1

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

  • Typical Toy Reviews

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

  • Sune Houlind
    Sune Houlind Year ago

    guess who else had the nickname "the crazy german"

  • dasBunny
    dasBunny Year ago

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

  • Tepp Sco
    Tepp Sco Year 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 Year 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 Year ago

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

  • Andy Parsons
    Andy Parsons Year ago

    How did you get it back to the UK 😉😉