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Badminton Physics



Gym class is filled with exciting games every year. One of my favorites is badminton. One of the amazing things about badminton is that is uses a shuttlecock, or birdie, that is volleyed back and forth over the net. What's amazing about the shuttlecock is that it always flips on impact so it flies with the cork facing forward for the opposing team to hit it back. What makes it flip? 

The mass of the shuttlecock is not evenly distributed. Most of the mass is in the cork part of it. The shuttlecock also holds a shape that is similar to cone. This causes more air resistance to the back, or feather, part of the shuttlecock. As a result the cork is moving at a higher speed on impact and moves in front of the feathered part. 

Related image

From this series of photographs you can see that when the shuttlecock is hit it is initially facing the racket, but immediately starts to rotate. As the projectile moves along, the shuttlecock completely changes direction for the opponent to hit it right back.

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