You are on page 1of 1

PHYSICS OF BOOMERANG A boomerang is a thrown tool which dates back from 20000 years ago according to the discovery

of a boomerang artifact in Poland. As entertaining as the boomerang might be to us, the Aborigines originally use boomerang (non returning boomerang, kylies) as a tool to hunt down animals. As centuries passes, the Aborigines began to fancy smaller boomerangs and the more bent ones. Therefore, the v shaped boomerang (returning boomerang ) became known to mankind. As the word returning suggests, this v shaped boomerang returns to the thrower and does not serve a tool to hunt. Thus, the Aborigines perfected the throwing technique and design just for the fun of it. As a result , there are mainly 2 types of boomerang known as the non returning boomerang and returning boomerang as mentioned above. Remember the time when we used to watch cartoons character which throws a boomerang to hit another character and the boomerang would just simply return to the thrower as if it is a work of magic? Well, the flight of boomerang actually involves certain principles of physics. To throw a boomerang the proper way would be to grab the bottom vertically and slightly tilted with the leading edge pointing forward. The cross section of the boomerang is shaped like an airfoil, the purpose of this design is to generate enough aerodynamic force so as to lift the boomerang during flight instead of just being pulled by attractive force of gravity and fall back to the ground. How does the airfoil design provides lifting force for the boomerang? When in flight, the air particle travel faster above the curved edge of the airfoil relative to the bottom face of it. The difference in pressure would then lift the boomerang just like it would to planes and more. Now that we have figured out how the boomerang takes flight. The next important question is, how does it actually curve back to the thrower during flight??? The boomerang during flight is just like propeller of a helicopter with an axis for the force to act on. The boomerang propeller axis is only imaginary. When the boomerang is spinning about its axis, the stick which spins in the direction of flight receives more lift as the wing have to exert more force to push down the increase in mass. The situation is analogous to someone pressing on a tilted chair whereby it is a certain that the chair would fall. The boomerang on the other hand will curve to either left or right. This situation is an example of gyroscopic precession where the spinning object will react to the force as if it is pushed at 90 degree to the actual direction of applied force. The difference in force caused by uneven speed at two wings provides a resultant force which can be felt at the leading edge which causes it to turn directions. The change in direction can be further explained by the fact that boomerang throw gives it an angular momentum which causes it to precess due to top edge travelling faster and gets more lift as mentioned earlier. This gives torque on the boomerang which will then enable it to curve. The direction of torque can be worked out with the help of the right hand grip rule. http://hyperphysics.phy-astr.gsu.edu/hbase/brng.html http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boomerang http://physik.uni-graz.at/~cad/Lehre/boomerang.pdf