# Spinning astronauts - can they tell which one is spinning?

If there are two astronauts facing each other along a common axis that goes through both of their centres of gravity, and one is spinning about that axis, which one is stationary and which one is moving?

It seems to me that one of them will be experiencing more blood in their extremities, and that if they make themselves into a ball they will spin faster vs. the other astronaut will not experience any such effect, but will observe that the astronaut which is actually spinning does go faster when they make themselves into a ball. This seems to be true to me even if you remove the entire universe apart from the astronauts (which is how I heard this question couched). However I have heard it said that as all motion is relative, neither astronaut can tell which one is spinning. It will appear to both that they are stationary and the other astronaut is spinning and there is no way to resolve this. Surely space itself even though empty is some kind of absolute background here and the one which is stationary is stationary in space and the spinning one, since they are rotating in space will feel the effects of the rotation? Or have I got it completely wrong?

• Both astronauts pull a wrench out of their pockets, stretch out their arm and let it go. Problem solved. The one who's wrench flies away was spinning. No universe needed. Oct 25, 2022 at 7:32
• General reading for this: Mach's principle. Oct 25, 2022 at 11:16
• @EmilioPisanty that's very interesting, and surprising that I haven't heard of it before given that it was so highly regarded by Einstein and seemed to him a key part of the principles underpinning relativity. However, it seems to me that the above question has been answered very capably both by FlatterMann in the comments and Agnius as a formal answer, without the need for it. Oct 26, 2022 at 7:25

For example, one solution you proposed already is based on conservation of angular momentum $$\vec L = I \vec {\omega} = \text {const} ,$$