The science of boomerangs


The above photograph taken from an article in Popular Mechanics called science of boomerangs.
Click on the above photograph to see complete image.

I first saw this photograph at Neurophilosphy.

I have been fascinated by boomerangs since I was a kid. I remember reading an article in Scientific American (I think – it was decades ago) about the physics of boomerangs. It all tied in with what I had learned about precession.
Precession of the equinoxes
is one of the things I, as a kid interested in astronomy, read about. The tilt of the Earth’s axis rotates like the axis of the gyroscope above. One rotation of the Earth’s axis takes slightly longer time than the gyroscope in the above image – about 25765 years longer time. That is slow. So slow it takes centuries to even notice it with the naked eye and who or what lives that long? Written records live that long that’s what. And my interest in all the above stuff lead on to my learning about Hipparchus. Hipparchus is credited with discovering precession of the Earth’s axis. He also compiled the first star catalogue. This in the 2nd century BC mind. How cool is that. The ancient Greeks were doing advanced astronomy over 2000 years ago and even they weren’t the first to do that. Knowledge of this kind of stuff seemed to pass us by in the west for over a thousand years. What were we doing? Anyway we eventually woke up and developed the scientific method. Incidentally a few years ago we built a satellite to measure with extreme accuracy the positions of amongst others the same stars Hipparchus catalogued over two thousand years ago. In his honor it was named Hipparchus.

It is of course using the knowledge gained by using the scientific method that enables us to explain how a boomerang works.

I seem to have come full circle here.


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