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I was always intrigued by the phenomena that govern the returning back of a boomerang to the thrower.

Even if it is dependent on various factors such as velocity, aerodynamics, wind resistance and so on I was wondering, there must be some concise explanation to it?

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up vote 19 down vote accepted

Fundamentally, a boomerang has two arms that spin. One arm spins in the same direction of flight and the other spins away from the direction of flight. For this reason, there's a tilt force on the boomerang.

alt text

Now, since the boomerang is spinning it has angular momentum. Therefore the tilt force generates precession which is pretty much what makes the boomerang come back.

alt text

Full explanation here.

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Great answer, nice and concise – xenon Nov 25 '10 at 22:19

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