Saturday, March 22, 2008

This is why we have a space program

The International Space Station was intended as a giant laboratory in space, and despite numerous delays and screw-ups in getting it up there, it is producing interesting and important scientific research. I'd like to highlight one of the most recent discoveries to come down to Earth from the ISS.

Boomerangs work in zero G. When thrown inside the ISS, the boomerang flew the same way it does on Earth.

This is cool. For a start, I didn't think the ISS was big enough to get a decent throw of a boomerang without hitting the walls. I'd like to see this research extended to see how boomerangs fly in zero g without an atmosphere. I think it would be different, but I'm not sure how much of the motion is purely from the rotational motion, and how much is the interaction between the rotational motion and an atmosphere.

There should be more of this sort of stuff going on up in space.

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1 comment:

David Barry said...

I made a card boomerang last year and it had a flying radius of somewhere between three and five feet.

It doesn't surprise me that a boomerang could work in zero-G, but I'll be interested to see if the boomerang remains vertical throughout its flight or if (like on the Earth) it becomes horizontal as it comes back to you.

I'm certain that boomerangs require an atmosphere. The theory behind them is just like the theory behind wings.