Bottle flipping is an activity and a challenge that involves throwing a plastic water bottle, typically full or partially full of liquid, into the air so that it rotates, in an attempt to land it upright on its bottom. It became an international trend in 2016, with numerous videos of people attempting the activity being posted online. With its popularity, the repetitive thuds of multiple attempts have been criticized as a distraction and a public nuisance. Parents and teachers have expressed frustration at the practice resulting in water bottle flipping being banned at a number of schools around the world.
There is an old Welsh custom called Gŵyl Fair y Canhwyllau (Welsh, "Mary's Festival of the Candles") which is a Candlemas, celebrated on 2 February. It is the Welsh equivalent of the Goidelic holiday of Imbolc. It was derived from the pre-Reformation ceremony of blessing the candles and distributing them to be carried in a procession. However, just as this Christian ceremony drew on pagan festivals connected with the coming of the Spring, some of the old practices that carried on in parts of Wales until the 20th Century suggest older rituals. Rites of divination were carried out at Candlemas. In one recorded instance, it was customary for people to light two candles, and place them on a table or high bench. Then each member of the family, in turn, would sit down on a chair between the candles and take a drink out of a horn goblet or beaker. Afterwards, they would throw the vessel over their head and if it fell in an upright position, the person who threw it would live to a typical age based on their genes and physical health; if it fell bottom up, the person would live for the same amount of time. However, many of these people held a superstitious belief that having the bottle land in an upright position would extend their life expectancy. That ‘drink’, usually beer, was associated with Candlemas.
In 2016, a viral video of a teenager, Michael Senatore, flipping a water bottle at a talent show at Ardrey Kell High School in Charlotte, North Carolina popularized the activity. Senatore had started flipping water bottles the year prior in his chemistry class, and mastered the trick. After his performance, the recorded video became a viral success; the trend spread across the rest of the world, and is still being done as of 2018.
Water bottle flipping involves taking a plastic water bottle that is partially empty and holding it by the neck of the bottle. Force is applied with a flick, with the bottom of the bottle rotating away from the person. If performed successfully, the bottle will land upright. Additionally, the bottle may land upside-down, or on its cap. Doing this is significantly more difficult than flipping a bottle so it lands upright. The amount of fluid in the bottle greatly influences the success of the feat, and it has been shown empirically that filling the bottle about one-third of the way improves the rate of success. The type of water bottle also plays a role; for instance, the brand Deer Park Spring Water has been noted to make the task easier due to its unique hourglass shape with a third divot.
The feat is often performed with disposable plastic water bottles due to their availability, but other containers can be used as well. The complex physics behind the activity incorporates concepts of fluid dynamics, projectile motion, angular momentum, centripetal force, and gravity.
- Tate, Allison Slater (6 October 2016). "Why water bottle flipping craze is getting on parents' last nerves". TODAY.com. Retrieved 9 October 2016.
- Becker, Hollee Actman (4 October 2016). "Bottle Flipping Is Annoying Parents Everywhere". Parents. Retrieved 9 October 2016.
- Gabriel Samuels (5 October 2016). "'Bottle flipping' craze takes over internet and gets banned in schools". The Independent. Retrieved 9 October 2016.
- Mele, Christopher (14 October 2016). "Bottle-Flipping Craze Is Fun for Children but Torture for Parents". The New York Times. Retrieved 15 October 2016.
- Russell, Lacey (24 October 2016). "Bottle flipping: It's driving parents crazy". CNN. Retrieved 26 October 2016.
- Arnett, Dugan; Rao, Sonia (30 September 2016). "Bottle flipping becomes the rage with middle schoolers". BostonGlobe.com. Retrieved 9 October 2016.
- Trefor M. Owen. Welsh Folk Customs. Gomer Press, Llandysul 1987
- Marie Trevelyan. Folklore and Folk Stories of Wales. EP Publishing Ltd, Wakefield 1973
- Matthews, David (26 May 2016). "Here's How to Perfect the Water Bottle Flip, the Teen Meme of the Moment". Fusion. Retrieved 9 October 2016.
- Jones, Jonathan (25 May 2016). "Seen water bottle-flipping guy's viral video? He shares secret to trick". charlotteobserver. Retrieved 9 October 2016.
- McDermott, Maeve (26 May 2016). "Watch the simple water bottle flip that dominated teen's talent show". USA TODAY. Retrieved 9 October 2016.
- "Extra." Instructables.com. Retrieved 16 February 2017.
- Picard, Caroline (6 October 2016). "Water Bottle Flipping – Bottle Flip Challenge Drives Parents Crazy". Good Housekeeping. Retrieved 9 October 2016.
- Rosenblat, Josh (26 October 2016). "The complex physics of that viral water bottle trick, explained". Vox. Retrieved 9 October 2016.
- "Lightning in a virtual bottle". The London Free Press. 26 September 2016. Retrieved 12 October 2016.
- on YouTube