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Physics of Diving

When a high diver in a swimming event springs from the board and “tucks in”, a rapid spin result. Why is this?

Answer: This is the consequence of conservation of angular momentum.

The angular momentum of a body is the product of Moment of inertia (A measure of rotational inertia and it depends on the mass as well as distribution of mass about the axis of rotation. Farther the masses, greater will be the rotational inertia) and the angular velocity (The speed of rotation)

The angular momentum of a body remains unchanged in the absence of any external torque.

When the diver dives, he is giving his body a turning and takes off with his limbs stretched. In the stretched position, the moment of inertia is more. When he “tucks in”, the moment of inertia decreases. But since this happens without any external torque, it would result in an increase in angular velocity so as to keep the angular momentum constant.

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