In one of my physics classes, we are using slow motion video to analyze the falling motion of an object and then find out the drag coefficient of that object etc.
I noticed while doing this that if I dropped our object (a styrofoam bowl with a cone of sorts attached to the top) from any position, it would always flip and fall tip down if dropped from high enough. There was of course a certain height when it would not flip and would fall slowly to the floor.
I asked my question to the professor and he said he wasn't completely sure and that the only relevant knowledge he had was that some high-atmosphere ice crystals which are basically square shaped fall with the square side down, rather than sideways.
No doubt there are many examples of objects not falling in their most aerodynamic position, so here's the way I'm picturing this. I imagine it is something like each object which falls in a particular orientation has reached a minimum (or maximum) on a potential energy curve. Except that I guess this curve would represent minimums in the drag force. And the reason then that many objects would not fall in their most aerodynamic position is because the energy barriers between that position and the next minimum are very small. I'm picturing a piece of paper falling for instance. Paper would fall fastest with its edge to the ground, yet it often teeters back and forth between that position and falling with its full area facing downwards.
So, any thoughts on this idea and just general answers to what determines which direction an object will face while falling?