A Physics Prof Bet Me $10,000 I’m Wrong

A UCLA Physics Professor bet me $10,000 that my video clip about going downwind swifter than the wind was mistaken. The very first 200 folks to sign up via https://brilliant.org/veritasium get 20% off a yearly subscription.

For more info about the Veritasium Science Communication Contest check out — https://ve42.co/contest

The wager agreement: https://ve42.co/wager

Prof. Kusenko’s slips: https://ve42.co/Kusenko

My rebuttal: https://ve42.co/rebuttal
Huge thanks to Xyla Foxlin for building the model cart, and making the directives so accessible to the public.
A colossal thanks to Bill Nye, Neil DeGrasse Tyson, and Sean Carroll for witnessing the signing of the wager.

A giant thanks to Prof. Alexander Kusenko for being a guy of honour — it is a tough thing to change your mind, particularly in a public forum.

A large thanks to Prof. Mark Drela for the interview and help making certain we got the physics right.

A gigantic thanks to Rick Cavallaro for making Blackbird, all your revelations, appraisal, data, and general help with these video clips — it was so fun to cooperate with you on this insane task — check out Rick’s channel https://ve42.co/Rick

M. Drela. Dead-Downwind Swifter Than The Wind (DDWFTTW)
Evaluation (Jan 2009) — https://ve42.co/Drela

2013 AAPT United States Physics Olympiad Semifinal Exam — https://ve42.co/AAPT2013

Rick’s treadmill footage — https://ve42.co/Treadmill

Rick’s multiple justifications of how Blackbird works — https://ve42.co/DDWFTTW

Blackford, B. L. (1978). The physics of a push‐me pull‐you boat. American Journal of Physics, 46(10), 1004-1006. — https://ve42.co/Blackford1979

Forum conversations — https://ve42.co/forum Blog — https://ve42.co/blog1 and retraction https://ve42.co/BlogRetraction

Bauer, A. B. (1969, April). Faster than the Wind. In First AIAA Symposium on Sailing. — https://ve42.co/Bauer1969

Bauer’s Obituary — https://ve42.co/BauerObituary

Gaunaa, M., Øye, S., & Mikkelsen, R. F. (2009). Assumption and design of flow driven cars using rotors for energy conversion. In EWEC 2009 Proceedings on-line EWEC

Md. Sadak Ali Khan, Syed Ali Sufiyan, Jibu Thomas George, Md. Nizamuddin Ahmed. Analysis of Down-Wind Propeller Vehicle. International Journal of Scientific and Research Publications, 3, 4. (April 2013) ISSN 2250-3153.

Special thanks to Patreon proponents: Mike Tung, Evgeny Skvortsov, Meekay, Ismail Öncü Usta, Bill Linder, Paul Peijzel, Crated Comments, Anna, Mac Malkawi, Michael Schneider, Oleksii Leonov, Jim Osmun, Tyson McDowell, Ludovic Robillard, Jim Buckmaster, fanime96, Juan Benet, Ruslan Khroma, Robert Blum, Richard Sundvall, Lee Redden, Vincent, Marinus Kuivenhoven, Alfred Wallace, Arjun Chakroborty, Joar Wandborg, Clayton Greenwell, Pindex, Michael Krugman, Cy ‘kkm’ K’Nelson, Sam Lutfi, Ron Neal


Written and Edited by Derek Muller
Animation by Mike Radjabov
Manim equations by Jonny Hyman
Filmed by Emily Zhang and Raquel Nuno
Music from Epidemic Sound https://epidemicsound.com and by Jonny Hyman
Additional video clip supplied by Getty Images
Produced by Emily Zhang, Petr Lebedev and Derek Muller


  1. almost 2 million views in 21 hours… astonishing

  2. I love science! 🙂

  3. Dhan Prasad Pradhan

    Why youtube has no love button?

  4. 16:09 if only the science the media talks about could be proven or replicated…. but it cant

  5. Hi Derek
    What made this project so famous because of arguement.. This seeded thought to learn more about blackbird and ingenius discovery..
    Thanks to you nd professor for wonderful debate..
    Professor is truly aweome for keeping his word..

  6. The treadmill is powered by electricity. The car wants to stay where it is in the room, because it has a mass. Additionally she holds the car, till the wheels and the prop are sped up to match the treadmill’s speed. And then still and continuously , energy comes from the treadmill. Her stopping the car from going forward, is of course maintaining the maximum energy tranfer from the treadmil into the wheels and the propeller. If the car would be let gone, this transfer would get lower and lower, if there was no energy from the treadmill anymore, because of friction. And by the way, deviding by zero is not allowed in maths. And why , because counting it as infinite doesn’t always work, like it does sometimes, when you only use it as a calculating step in between, in SOME cases. Try deviding by 0 on a calculator, it will show an error. This ‘ ‘EXPERT’ ‘ not knowing this basic middle school info, tells everything.

  7. I wish Richard P. Feynman was alive to see this.

  8. Not convinced. Why not take the model and put a fan behind it. I wouldn’t be surprised if it didnt even move

  9. I respect Professor Kusenko for this
    it led to me having a much clearer understanding of what happened
    That board and wheel analogy really showed me what was going on
    and proved to me that it could rotate as described
    very cool

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