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?

Gillian: Sure.

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?

Gillian: Right.

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.

Gillian: 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.