“The shuttlecock soars upward
In a parabola of whiteness,
And sinks to a perfect arc.”
This extract, from one of the few eminent poems to prominently feature shuttlecocks, is by Amy Lawrence Lowell, (Men, Women and Ghosts, A Roxbury Garden,1916) and is quoted in the latest research regarding the aerodynamics of shuttlecocks. A study by Chak Man Chan of the Mechanical Engineering department at Lafayette College, Easton, Pennsylvania, (advised by professor Jenn Stroud Rossmann), scientifically examined a previously unexamined question : with regard to the shuttlecock skirt, which might be best, feather or plastic?
“In this study, the flight performance of four models of shuttlecocks, two with feather skirts and two with plastic, is investigated. The aerodynamic forces of each shuttlecock at varying air speed and angle of attack are measured in a subsonic wind tunnel. Empirical correlations derived from these data are then incorporated into an adaptive, shuttlecock-specific numerical trajectory simulation.”
Analysis of the simulations and experiments confirmed the preferences of some professional shuttlecock users.
“Results of both aerodynamic testing and trajectory simulation provide quantitative support for players’ preference for the ‘feel’ and responsiveness of feather shuttlecocks.”
The paper: Badminton shuttlecock aerodynamics: synthesizing experiment and theory is published in Sports Engineering, June 2012, Volume 15, Issue 2, pp 61-71.
COMING SOON Shuttlecock aerodynamics : part 4 (with an as yet unresolved puzzle requiring readers’ assistance).
The previous article in this series can be found here.
BONUS A further poetic extract :
“The shuttlecock drops zigzagedly,
Out of orbit,
Hits the path,
And rolls over quite still.
Dead white feathers,
With a weight at the end.”
( The full poem can be read here, courtesy of Project Gutenberg).