London, March 25 : The phenomenon of boomerangs working in space the same way they do on Earth, has been attributed to uneven forces which are exerted by the air the curved devices travel through.
According to a report in New Scientist, Takao Doi, a Japanese astronaut, who was visiting the International Space Station as part of NASA's latest space shuttle mission, demonstrated this phenomenon.
After Doi threw a boomerang inside the space station, it behaved no differently than on Earth, flying back to him.
"The result is exactly what the science behind boomerangs predicts," said David Caughey, an aerodynamics expert at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, US.
"I'm not terribly surprised by the fact that it came back in the absence of gravity," Caughey told New Scientist. "Gravity pretty much is irrelevant," he added.
According to Caughey, the looping paths that boomerangs are famous for are the result of uneven forces on the curved devices exerted by the air they travel through - not the influence of gravity.
The forces from the air are uneven because of the boomerang's spin. The section of the boomerang moving in the same direction as its forward motion moves faster through the air than the part moving in the opposite direction.
The unevenness of the force causes the boomerang to turn and follow a circular path, eventually bringing it right back to the thrower. As long as there is air to provide the necessary forces, then, a boomerang will return to its thrower, even in the weightlessness of Earth orbit.
"If, however, the boomerang had been thrown outside the space station in the vacuum of space, there would be no aerodynamic forces to make it return to its thrower," said Caughy.