Even Michael Jordan would have to be impressed with this dunk. The athlete (?) in this very popular video clip apparently breaks the world-record for a trampoline-aided, long-distance dunk, soaring more than 20 feet before slamming it through. That's outside the college three-point line, MJ.
The secret to his success, according to physicist Len Fisher, an Ig Nobel winner who runs a website focused on the science of everyday life, is the leap forward towards the front of the trampoline, right before he flies to the hoop. He's not merely closing the gap here. In the middle of the trampoline, he's stretching all the springs on the outside equally, but once he moves to the edge, he really only stretches the springs closest to him. "The closer to the edge," Fisher says, "the more effective the recoil is going to be." And since he tilts his body forward, that recoil throws him horizontally.
The amazing thing, Fisher adds, is that he doesn't slip when he pulls off this switch between vertical and horizontal motion. You'd need incredibly high friction between your feet and the trampoline. Fisher wonders if he had some sort of resin that gave him a better grip. And the look of tension on the face of that guy with the glasses? Sorry, we can't explain that one. But it might just be the highlight of the whole clip.—Gregory Mone