Boomerang returns, even in space
An exciting and somewhat unexpected news item came across my virtual desk today. Here is the story, as published in ABC News Australia:
Boomerang by Scott Mac Millan found on Pierre Kutek's site
In an unprecedented experiment, a Japanese astronaut has thrown a boomerang in space and confirmed it flies back, much like on Earth.
Astronaut Takao Doi "threw a boomerang and saw it come back" during his free time on March 18 at the International Space Station (ISS), a spokeswoman at the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency said.
Mr Doi threw the boomerang after a request from compatriot Yasuhiro Togai, a world boomerang champion.
"I was very surprised and moved to see that it flew the same way it does on Earth," the Mainichi Shimbun daily quoted the 53-year-old astronaut as telling his wife in a chat from space.
The space agency said a videotape of the experiment would likely be released later.
Doi travelled on US shuttle Endeavour on the March 11 blast-off and successfully delivered the first piece of a Japanese laboratory to the ISS.
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Now what could cause such a phenomenon?
I was always thinking that boomerangs worked because of the aerodynamics involved. They are shaped like an airplane's wing, but bent at an angle.
Now since there is no air in space, or at least too little to let aerodynamics be the cause of a returning boomerang, my thought is that vorticity generated by the gyrating boomerang, may be implicated in this phenomenon. Which of course means that the medium of space is more dense than we normally think it is.
Or was this perhaps a miniature boomerang thrown inside the space station?
Well, the mystery, if there ever was one, is now solved. The boomerang was small and it was thrown inside the space station, as can be seen from this video that's meanwhile been posted: