Rattleback dynamics and its reversal time of rotation

Yoichiro Kondo, Hiizu Nakanishi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


A rattleback is a rigid, semielliptic toy which exhibits unintuitive behavior; when it is spun in one direction, it soon begins pitching and stops spinning, then it starts to spin in the opposite direction, but in the other direction, it seems to spin just steadily. This puzzling behavior results from the slight misalignment between the principal axes for the inertia and those for the curvature; the misalignment couples the spinning with the pitching and the rolling oscillations. It has been shown that under the no-slip condition and without dissipation the spin can reverse in both directions, and Garcia and Hubbard obtained the formula for the time required for the spin reversal tr [Proc. R. Soc. Lond. A 418, 165 (1988)1364-502110.1098/rspa.1988.0078]. In this work, we reformulate the rattleback dynamics in a physically transparent way and reduce it to a three-variable dynamics for spinning, pitching, and rolling. We obtain an expression of the Garcia-Hubbard formula for tr by a simple product of four factors: (1) the misalignment angle, (2) the difference in the inverses of inertia moment for the two oscillations, (3) that in the radii for the two principal curvatures, and (4) the squared frequency of the oscillation. We perform extensive numerical simulations to examine validity and limitation of the formula, and find that (1) the Garcia-Hubbard formula is good for both spinning directions in the small spin and small oscillation regime, but (2) in the fast spin regime especially for the steady direction, the rattleback may not reverse and shows a rich variety of dynamics including steady spinning, spin wobbling, and chaotic behavior reminiscent of chaos in a dissipative system.

Original languageEnglish
Article number062207
JournalPhysical Review E
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 12 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Statistical and Nonlinear Physics
  • Statistics and Probability
  • Condensed Matter Physics


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