The Physics of Boomerangs
The Physics of BoomerangsEnglish
This learning video explores the mysterious physics behind boomerangs and other rapidly spinning objects. Students will get to make and throw their own boomerangs between video segments! A key idea presented is how torque causes the precession of angular momentum. One class period is required to complete this learning video, and the optimal prerequisites are a familiarity with forces, Newton’s laws, vectors and time derivatives. Each student would need the following materials for boomerang construction: cardboard (roughly the size of a postcard), ruler, pencil/pen, scissors, protractor, and a stapler.
Darren is the Science Samurai. He is currently a graduate student in theoretical physics at the University of Oxford under the supervision of Professor John Chalker. He has worked for the Singapore Ministry of Education as a physics lecturer and tutor in Pioneer Junior College, and also as a Senior Head (Policy) in the Higher Education Division. http://www2.physics.ox.ac.uk/contacts/people/tan
Additional Online Resources
“Unspinning the Boomerang: The Maths and Physics of a Boomerang.” A comprehensive presentation of the Boomerang, presented by +Plus Magazine: Living Mathematics
Walter Lewin’s BLOSSOMS video – “Ice Skater’s Delight: The Conservation of Angular Momentum”
A fascinating presentation of the Gyrocompass as a real world application of Gyroscopes.
How to make and throw Boomerangs, from Google Books.
Wikipedia selections on Boomerangs and associated phenomenon.
This site presents an MIT Physics demonstration of a bicycle wheel gyroscope.