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An arrow turns in flight so as to be tangent to its flight path at all times. However, a football (thrown with considerable spin about its long axis) does not do this. Why this difference in behavior?

An arrow turns in flight so as to be tangent to its flight path at all times. However, a football (thrown with considerable spin about its long axis) does not do this. Why this difference in behavior?

Grade:10

1 Answers

Jitender Pal
askIITians Faculty 365 Points
6 years ago
The initial angular momentum due to the spin in the football ensures that any angular momentum due to the action of external forces does not change the direction of the initial angular momentum significantly. This allows the ball to reach the catcher with the same orientation as it was when thrown by the passer.
In case of the arrow, the lack of initial spin allows external forces such as gravity to change the direction of the angular momentum vector. This is accomplished by moving the arrow in a direction tangent to its path.

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