Can You Solve This Physics Brainteaser of the Bullet-Block Experiment? [Video--UPDATED]

A wooden block is shot, first dead center and then off-center, which imparts a spin on the block. Which goes higher, and why?

The science video blog Veritasium offers this nifty little puzzle. Does a wooden block, when shot by a vertically aimed rifle, go higher when it’s hit dead center or off-center? In the latter case, the bullet causes the block to spin. Several science communicators are asked the question in this set-up video:

Did you pick an outcome? If not, don’t worry—here’s the result of the experiment:

UPDATE (9/3/13): Derek Muller, the creator of Veritasium, has posted the answer. Short version: commenter number 1 below, bokubob, is correct. But watch the video for some surprising details and another challenge for experimenters:

Read SA blogger Carin Bondar's interview with Derek Muller here, from 2012.

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