Youtuber wins USD 10K bet with scientist over physics problem

WION Web Team
New DelhiUpdated: Jul 29, 2021, 06:56 PM IST

YouTube logo (file photo) Photograph:(Twitter)

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The problem at hand was pretty counterintuitive

We all have our fields of mastery. We may or may not have a degree in it but there are some areas in which we are so confident that we debate with ANYONE to prove our point. And then there comes a day when someone beats us at our own game.

A similar thing happened when a Youtuber won a 10,000 dollar bet with a physicist over an argument that involved laws of physics.

Derek Muller boasts of more than 9 million followers on his Youtube channel. In his videos, Muller breaks down scientific concepts in a fun manner for his viewers.

In May, he posted a video on Blackbird, a land yacht that runs on wind power. 

The Blackbird has been made by an aerospace engineer. Intriguing thing about Blackbird is that it runs faster than wind speed when travelling downwind.

Now this is counterintuitive. How can a vehicle running on wind power run faster than wind when the wind is flowing in the same direction? But Blackbird apparently does.

Enter Alexander Kusenko, a physicist and a professor at UCLA. He contacted Muller and said that he was taken in by bad science and the claim cannot be true.

So confident was Muller about the Blackbird that he bet USD 10,000 over the claim. He never thought he would hear back from Kusenko. But to his surprise, Kusenko actually sent him documents of the bet. 

The stage was set!

There were scientific arguments and counter-arguments from both sides. This went on for weeks after which Muller decided to conduct an actual field test.


He drove the Blackbird on El Mirage lake bed in Arizona. It was found that the vehicle travelled at 45 km/hr when wind was flowing at 16 km/hr in the same direction. And the increased speed was not due to sporadic gust winds as the vehicle held the speed for two minutes.

So did he get the money?

"Kusenko coughed up the 10 grand, let's leave it at that," Muller was quoted as saying by ScienceAlert.