The Super Bowl is a Gigantic Physics Classroom

Sports and science go together like Beast Mode and Skittles. Throws, collisions, sprints, and kicks are all dependent on the Laws of Physics.

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.

Photo credit: Ron Foster Sharif / Shutterstock

LinkedIn meets Tinder in this mindful networking app

Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.

Getty Images
Sponsored
Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.

No, we aren't talking about Tinder. Introducing Shapr, a free app that helps people with synergistic professional goals and skill sets easily meet and collaborate.

Keep reading Show less

Think you’re bad at math? You may suffer from ‘math trauma’

Even some teachers suffer from anxiety about math.

Image credit: Getty Images
Mind & Brain

I teach people how to teach math, and I've been working in this field for 30 years. Across those decades, I've met many people who suffer from varying degrees of math trauma – a form of debilitating mental shutdown when it comes to doing mathematics.

Keep reading Show less

A world map of Virgin Mary apparitions

She met mere mortals with and without the Vatican's approval.

Strange Maps
  • For centuries, the Virgin Mary has appeared to the faithful, requesting devotion and promising comfort.
  • These maps show the geography of Marian apparitions – the handful approved by the Vatican, and many others.
  • Historically, Europe is where most apparitions have been reported, but the U.S. is pretty fertile ground too.
Keep reading Show less

How KGB founder Iron Felix justified terror and mass executions

The legacy of Felix Dzerzhinsky, who led Soviet secret police in the "Red Terror," still confounds Russia.

Getty Images
Politics & Current Affairs
  • Felix Dzerzhinsky led the Cheka, Soviet Union's first secret police.
  • The Cheka was infamous for executing thousands during the Red Terror of 1918.
  • The Cheka later became the KGB, the spy organization where Russia's President Putin served for years.
Keep reading Show less