How do boomerangs work? In this Ask Smithsonian video, Dr. Eric Schulze explains how boomerangs work. (Smithsonian/Thinkstock)
How do boomerangs work?
Lexile

You asked us, "How do boomerangs work?"
 
There are actually two types of boomerangs. One flies in a circular path. It can knock you out cold. And the other is the non-returning boomerang.
 
Both have at least two wings. They meet at an angle.
 
The bent shape causes the boomerangs' to spin around a central point when it is thrown. That steadies their movement. It allows them to travel farther. It allows them to travel with greater accuracy than a straight stick.
 
That's exactly what makes the non-returning boomerang a deadly hunting weapon.
 
They've been used in Australia. They've been used in ancient Egypt. And even Poland. The earliest ones date back more than 20 thousand years.
 
But let's come back around to your question. How does the returning boomerang return?
 
Well, its wings are slightly rotated. They have an airfoil design. It generates twist.
 
That creates a curved flight path. That path sends that puppy home.
 
The returning boomerang is actually harder to throw on target. It's been used more for fun than hunting.
 
Fun must have been what those ancient Egyptians had in mind. That might be why they stored a few in King Tut's tomb.

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CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
How does the bent shape help the boomerang move?
Write your answers in the comments section below


COMMENTS (20)
  • sithu-eri
    9/09/2015 - 06:05 a.m.

    The bent shape helps the boomerang move by going-round at the central point.

  • zed-eri
    9/10/2015 - 05:18 a.m.

    I want boomerang. I only saw it in TV but never play with it before.

  • chue-eri
    9/10/2015 - 05:41 a.m.

    Playing with that boomerang would be interesting and can have fun. :)

  • erina-eri
    9/10/2015 - 05:43 a.m.

    The bent shape helps the boomerang move. The boomerang has at least two wings that meet at an angle. If it is a straight one,it will surely go straight on. As it is bent into a shape, this creates the circular path and causes the spinning movement. That's why it is difficult to aim the target.

  • emily-eri
    9/10/2015 - 05:49 a.m.

    The boomerang is made with wood ,so it is easy to go around.May be its move is like merry go around.

  • lynn-eri
    9/10/2015 - 05:57 a.m.

    According to the article, a boomerang is made of at least two wings which meet at a certain angle. I think these bent two wings help a boomerang to curve through the air quicker and easier than the straight stick. The bent shape also enables it to fly in a curved path.

  • kristine-eri
    9/11/2015 - 05:16 a.m.

    The bent shape helps the boomerang move by causing the boomerangs' to spin around a central point when it is thrown. The bent shape is better than the staight stick because it can go more further.

  • freddy-eri
    9/11/2015 - 05:47 a.m.

    I think the bent shape help to come back to me because this bent shape can change the direction of the boomerang when this boomerang is flying in air.

  • chloe-eri
    9/11/2015 - 06:08 a.m.

    The bent shape causes the boomerangs' to spin around a central point help the boomerang move.

  • may1-eri
    9/15/2015 - 06:09 a.m.

    The bent shapes help the boomerang move by throwing into the air and it's ineresting.

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