Boomerang

picture of boomerang

A boomerang has a fascinating property. When you throw it, it goes around in a circular path and returns to its starting point. It seems magical because when you normally throw something it doesn't come back.

Check out a video of a boomerang:



So what makes a boomerang come back to you when you throw it?

The shape of the boomerang is what causes it to return when thrown. The air exerts a force on the boomerang as it spins and flies through the air, and this force pushes on the boomerang in such a way that it returns to you. As a boomerang flies through the air, the spin of the boomerang causes the wings of the boomerang to travel at different speeds relative to the air. At all times during the flight, one wing is turning into the oncoming air flow and the other wing is turning away from the oncoming air flow. The wing turning into the oncoming air flow is experiencing a greater relative air speed than the wing turning away from the oncoming air flow. This difference in relative air speed causes unequal aerodynamic forces to act on the wings, which in turn causes the boomerang to go around in a circular path. A more detailed physics explanation is possible of course, but this basic explanation will give you an idea how the boomerang works.

The throwing technique is important because you have to throw it the right way for it to return. This is shown in the video.



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