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State and explain the principle of conservation of angular momentum. Use a suitable illustration. Do we use it in our daily life? When?

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Law (or principle) of conservation of angular momentum : The angular momentum of a body is conserved if the resultant external torque on the body is zero.

Explanation : This law (or principle) is used by a figure skater or a ballerina to increase their speed of rotation for a spin by reducing the body’s moment of inertia. A diver too uses it during a somersault for the same reason.

(1) Ballet dancers: During ice ballet, the dancers have to undertake rounds of smaller and larger radii. The dancers come together while taking the rounds of smaller radius (near the centre). In this case, the moment of inertia of their system becomes minimum and the frequency increases, to make it thrilling. While outer rounds, the dancers outstretch their legs and arms. This increases their moment of inertia that reduces the angular speed and hence the linear speed. This is essential to prevent slipping.

(2) Diving : Take-off from a springboard or diving platform determines the diver’s trajectory and the magnitude of angular momentum. A diver must generate angular momentum at take-off by moving the position of the arms and by a slight hollowing of the back. This allows the diver to change angular speeds for twists and somersaults in flight by controlling her/his moment of inertia. A compact tucked shape of the body lowers the moment of inertia for rotation of smaller radius and increased angular speed. The opening of the body for the vertical entry into water does not stop the rotation, but merely slows it down. The angular momentum remains constant throughout the flight

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