It's common practice for physics professors and public scientists to use pop culture to teach science lessons. Our buddy Neil deGrasse Tyson is a good example. He drops science facts filtered through movies:
In #Interstellar: You observe great Tidal Waves from great Tidal Forces, of magnitude that orbiting a Black Hole might create— Neil deGrasse Tyson (@neiltyson) November 10, 2014
Tweets about TV Shows:
The Big Bang Theory sitcom is so successful, if you Google “Big Bang Theory” It precedes the actual creation of the Universe.— Neil deGrasse Tyson (@neiltyson) September 11, 2012
And constantly merges science with his other love: sports.
A 50-yard field goal in MetLife stadium will deflect nearly 1/2 inch due to Earth’s rotation — meet the Coriolis force.— Neil deGrasse Tyson (@neiltyson) February 3, 2014
At 200mph, a nice @NASCAR speed, it’d take 1200hrs (50days) to drive to the Moon. And drivers would never need to turn left.— Neil deGrasse Tyson (@neiltyson) May 26, 2014
I like stuff like this. I think a lot of other folks do too. All too often we accuse academics of being lofty holier-than-thous who refuse to come down to the public's level. And all too often that accusation has merit.
That's why things like Sports Science are so entertaining and useful; they take purportedly high-minded concepts and apply them to fun, real-world examples.
Rhett Allain over at Wired does this better than anyone. He has a great piece up right now that adds to his bevy of fun ruminations on pop-culture science. His new article is a guide to understanding the Super Bowl by way of physics. Allain tackles subjects such as collision force, gravity's effect on a field goal attempt, and (wearily) Deflategate/Ballghazi. For example, did you know that it's easier to kick a field goal in Denver due to the rarified Mile High air? Physics!
Read more at Wired.
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