How To: Pull off the tablecloth trick

Pull off the tablecloth trick

At some point in time on TV or in a movie we've all witnessed a person pull a tablecloth clear off of a table without spilling the items on top. This is not an illusion, it can be done. Don't choose your mother's fine china to start with but do try it out.

Use the property of inertia to pull off this trick without breaking a single plate.

You Will Need

* A smooth tabletop
* A tablecloth without hems
* Plates
* Cups
* Utensils
* Plastic dishes
* Food and liquid (optional)

Step 1: Check the table

Check the tabletop to make sure it is flat. Ideally, you want a table with a straight – not rounded – edge.

Step 2: Lay the tablecloth

Spread the tablecloth on the table and smooth out any wrinkles. Keep a length of it hanging over the edge to pull on during the trick.

Step 3: Set the table

Set the plates, cups, and utensils on the table.

Weigh down any light objects by filling them with food or liquid.

Step 4: Grab the tablecloth

Grab on to the length of the tablecloth hanging over the edge of the table.

Step 5: Pull the cloth

Pull the cloth straight down, toward the ground. Pull quickly and with confidence, so that the tablecloth slides out from under the dishes and cups without causing them to fall.

Step 6: Practice

Practice this trick several times with plastic dishes until you have the technique mastered.

The secret to this trick is Sir Isaac Newton's First Law of Motion, based on Galileo's concept of inertia.

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