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If you have ever watched ice-skaters perform, you may have noticed that they spin faster when their arms are pulled inward toward their bodies. The reason for this phenomenon is explained by a physical principle called the "Conservation of Angular Momentum."

You can demonstrate this principle and that of the rapid movement of a pulsar by obtaining a spinning top. Give the top a slow turn and observe what happens.

Spinning Top

Next give the spinning top a quick, swift turn. Do you notice that the faster the top is spinning the more upright it is, and the slower it spins the more wobbly it becomes. This is exactly the concept of the "Conservation of Angular Momentum" which states that the mass, rotational speed, and the outward extension of a body are held constant.

This activity was developed by Jacqueline Slay, Largo High School, Largo, MD

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Imagine the Universe! is a service of the High Energy Astrophysics Science Archive Research Center (HEASARC), Dr. Alan Smale (Director), within the Astrophysics Science Division (ASD) at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center.

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This page last updated: Wednesday, 17-Nov-2004 15:33:04 EST