The rattleback is a very popular science toy shown to students all over the world to demonstrate the nontriviality of rotational motion. When spun on a horizontal table, this boat-shaped object behaves in a peculiar way. Although the object appears symmetric, the dynamics of its motion seem very asymmetric. When spun in the preferred direction, it spins smoothly, whereas in the other direction it starts to oscillate wildly. The oscillation soon dies out and the rattleback starts to spin in the preferred way. We will construct and go through an analytical model capable of explaining this behaviour in a simple and intelligible way. Although we aim at a semi-pedagogical treatise, we will study the details only when they are necessary to understand the calculation. After presenting the calculations we will discuss the physical validity of our assumptions and take a look at more sophisticated models requiring numerical analysis. We will then improve our model by assuming a simple friction force.
Financed by the National Centre for Research and Development under grant No. SP/I/1/77065/10 by the strategic scientific research and experimental development program:
SYNAT - “Interdisciplinary System for Interactive Scientific and Scientific-Technical Information”.