THE SCIENCE BEHIND PINBALL, EXPLAINED IN A BOOK
AR TS & ENTERTAINMEN T
plus an ;;-piece model pinball machine
to build and play with, to test the lessons.
Everything needed is in the kit, including
elastic bands and a steel marble.
Book co-author Nick Arnold,
who has been writing science
books for children for ;; years,
says, “[Pinball] brings in all the sci-
ence of forces, but then there’s also
energy, for example, you can talk
about as well.”
Other factors at play in the work-
ings of a pinball machine, including
movement, gravity, balancing
weights, friction and angles, are covered
in the book in the form of factoids and
clever illustrations under headings such
as “The Science Behind Pinball,” “The
Ball in Motion,” “Flipping Levers” and
As to whether understanding the sci-
ence will make you a better pinball player,
Arnold says, “I’m a great believer in sci-
ence. And I always think that an under-
standing of science can help
you do lots of things better.”
Force is needed
to get the ball rolling.
When you pull the
plunger back and let it
go, it springs forward.
The angle of each bounce
is always the same angle at
which the ball hits the surface
of the bumper.
A flipper is actually a lever that pivots or
swivels around a point called the fulcrum.
A force called the “effort,” applied to
one part of a lever, overcomes a force
called the “load,” applied at another point.
A steel ball has less friction
with the board, but the weight
keeps it on the board, allow-
ing the flippers to hit it
at the correct angle.
The ramp is an
example of a simple
machine called an
Pinball machines are on a slope. To get the
game going, the ball is shot up the alley with
the plunger. When it gets to the top, gravity is
the force that pulls the ball down into play.
OUR DIGITAL EDITIONS
Click here to see the pinball model
in action. (See page 9 for details.)
Pinball Science (Item
#1180129) is available at all
Costco warehouses, along
with another book in the
series, Super Structures.
DID YOU EVER stop to think about how a
pinball table works? Probably not. As with
many items in our lives, we take it for
granted that it will work. The science that
makes it work is a matter left to … scientists. And anyone interested in the subject.
Pinball Science: Everything That
Matters About Matter aims to change
that. It has ;; pages of information about
the various aspects of playing pinball,