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How to Make a Paper Clip Float on Water

Learn how to make a paper clip float on water in this Howcast video.


Male 1:Good grief. You two are back at the bar again.

Male 2:Couldn't get enough.

Gillian:We're going to get you.

Male 1:You've come back to get me, have you? I've got a perfect bet for you. Fantastic bet. Did you study science as a child, Gillian?

Gillian:A little bit.

Male 1:A little bit? You know '=MC2 squared and stuff like that?


Male 1:And the Pythagoracy theorem and triangles, and things?

Gillian:Pythagoras, yeah.

Male 1:You know that a paperclip is unlikely to float on water?


Male 1:However, my little frisky friend who's here to take me for money, and that's going to happen.

Male 2:It will.

Male 1:It's more likely I'm going to take your woman, by the way. You do know that? Have you realized over . . .

Gillian:Boys, boys, boys.

Male 1:. . . the course of these events how she's falling

Gillian:Go back to the paperclip.

Male 1:. . . so madly in love with me?

Male 2:I'm drawing the line here.

Male 1:She's falling madly in love with me, again, dreaming, and going, "Oh, crikey." Back to the paperclip. I'm going to bet you a drink, of course, that I can make a paperclip float on the surface of that water. Do you want to try one yourself? If that floats, I'll buy you a drink.

Gillian:You want to do it, or something?

Male 2:I don't know. Maybe it has . . .

Male 1:No, no, It has to be exactly as it is.

Male 2:Okay.

Male 1:You can't be fiddling and . . .

Gillian:It's got to be a trick.

Male 2:Yeah. It's got to be something. It's kind of floating right now.

Male 1:Yeah, but you're still holding onto . . .

Male 2:It floated for a second.

Male 1:It was so close.

Male 2:It floated for 1 second, so that's right.

Gillian:All right. Go ahead. Make a paperclip float.

Male 1:She's very demanding, isn't she?

Male 2:To business.

Male 1:Okay. Here's the deal. You'll do this on all of your friends tomorrow. You take 2 paperclips to make one float. What you do is you take one paperclip and you bend it into a little shape like that.

Male 2:Okay.

Male 1:Remember, I said the paperclip had to be intact, that floats. This is all about the surface tension of the water. Then you take another paperclip . . . this is a little Bill Nye science experiment guy thing. You balance it on the little T-shape there. You just plunk it into the water.

Male 2:Wow.


Male 1:The paperclip floats. The little bit of the paperclip won't break the surface tension, your fingertips will, every time.

Male 2:Wow.

Male 1:That, my friends, is how you float a paperclip on a bit of water.

Male 2:And beat science.

Male 1:And beat you out of another drink.

Male 2:Again.

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