The Physics of a Hanukkah Dreidel

The Physics of a Hanukkah Dreidel

12/12/17

“How does a Hanukkah dreidel spin?”

Hanukkah dreidels are great fun for people of all ages. These little tops are able to spin round and round with a very peculiar pattern. However, why exactly do they spin? Well, let’s use our scientific mindset to find out. All spinning objects with mass have a property called angular momentum. The more moment of inertia it has and the greater spin then the greater angular momentum it will have. Angular momentum tries to be conserved so a dreidel will try to keep on spinning when acting upon!

Happy Hanukkah, and Happy Holidays to everybody!!!

3 thoughts on “The Physics of a Hanukkah Dreidel”

1. I just saw this post! I can’t believe I missed it. Happy belated Hanukkah to you and yours. I hope it was wonderful. I hope you have a happy and healthy new year and here’s to a great 2019!

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2. carl says:

There’s maybe more to it than that, something like the intermediate axis theorem? My friends have dreidels that randomly flip and spin on their small dowel end. They seem to think this is common. They don’t seem to oscillate between the two poles though. Maybe just the square edges kick it up enough to settle on another stable config? tmi; google sent me here because the grand kid wants to make dreidels for Christmas presents?? (she’s 5) so my geeky self googled “dreidel physics” before making parts for her to put together. Is it required to have the box end terminate in a radius of can they come to a point? IOW what’s the tradition for dreidel design?

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