Posts about Sports

Hacking the Standard Bike Wheel

The Copenhagen Wheel stores energy (from braking…) and provides it when you need it (going up hill…). It is good to see innovation that helps transportation and can encourage people to be more active. Order now for $799.

Related: Engineering a Better World: Bike Corn-ShellerSeparated Bike Lanes Reduced Injuries by 45% and Increased Retail Sales 49% (for nearby stores)Bike Folds To Footprint of 1 WheelSports Engineering at MIT

Webcast: Examining the Scientific Basis Around Exercise and Diet Claims

Tim Noakes is the Director of UCT/MRC Research Unit for Exercise Science and Sports Medicine, Department of Human Biology, Faculty of Health Science, University of Cape Town and Professor, Discovery Health Chair of Exercise and Sports Science, University of Cape Town.

Tim examines some questions on science and exercise and health in the webcast. He shows the problem with drinking too much during exercise and the correlation of hospital admissions correlated to the sport drinks marketing and changing of the official drinking guidelines. He also discusses the outdated ideas related to lactic acid and muscles.

He is currently studying the science of food and human health and is skeptical of low fat health claims: “No evidence that dietary fat is related to heath disease.” He is certainly more knowledgable than I but I would still be cautious of completely accepting that premise. It does seem to me there is lots of evidence that claims of causation between eating a high fat diet and heart disease were too strong (many other factors were critical – such as weight, exercise, genetics, unsaturated fat v. saturated fat…).

Tim Noaks: “50% of what we teach is wrong; the problem is we don’t know which 50% it is. Our job as educated people is to spend our lifetime trying to figure out which 50% is which. Until it is disproven accept that for which the evidence appears solid and logical and is free of covert or overt conflicts of interest, because unfortunately industry is driving what you believe in many many things. But don’t ever dismis lightly that for which there is credible evidence… and there is such clear evidence the diets we are eating are horrendous.”

As I have said before, scientific literacy is critical to allow us to make those judgements about what is credible evidence and what are outright lies, foolish claims or highly suspicious claims tainted by conflicts of interest.

Related: Can You Effectively Burn Calories by Drinking Cold Water?Static Stretching Decreases Muscle StrengthLack of Physical Activity Leads to 5.3 Million Early Deaths a YearScience Continues to Explore Causes of Weight GainStudy Finds Obesity as Teen as Deadly as Smoking

How to Walk on Ice

infographic explaining how to walk on ice - walk like a penguin

Infographic by Tablet. Falling on ice leads to many injuries and even 60 deaths a year in the USA (about the number that will die due to tornados). The graphic encourages thinking like a penguin. Penguins walk well on ice (in some ways) and they also fall well.

Seeking to keep your weight well supported (short strides) is wise (and sliding instead of picking up your feet can help). Falling well is also important. It is basic physics, you want to lower your center of gravity if you are start to slip and avoid any excessive force (so sliding is better than trying to stick out your hand and support all your weight). The elderly are especially susceptible to injuries – avoiding taking direct shocks to the wrist, knees or hips is wise). It does seem kind of silly to learn how to fall but it is very helpful in avoiding injuries.

On sidewalks if you are going to fall and there is snow piled up off the sidewalk, falling into the pile of snow may well be softer than falling directly onto the sidewalk.

On ice you have lower friction so strategies that require friction are not useful – quick moves often rely on very sturdy bases (which are based on the friction of our shoe on for example concrete [which normally is good – though business shoes are not very good] and on ice [where it is very poor – sliding and gradual moves are better]).

Related: Falling SafelyMinistry of Silly WalksMake Crosswalks More VisibleWhy Wasn’t the Earth Covered in Ice 4 Billion Years Ago – When the Sun was DimmerScience Toys You Can Make With Your Kids

Sports Science Behind Jeremy Lin’s Breakout Performance

Jeremy Lin’s performance has been amazing. It is always fun to see someone succeed who wasn’t expected to do so well.d Jeremy Lin was waived by two teams and now has lead the Nicks to an amazing performance the last 10 games for the New York Knicks in the NBA. It will be fun to see how it continues.

The video gives a very cursory overview of some of the training Jeremy Lin did between basketball seasons.

A few decades ago training was largely about learning and working on a few fundamentals and playing. In the last few decades the science behind athletics has created a huge change in preparation for sports at high levels, as we have written about previously: Physicist Swimming Revolution, Science of the High Jump, Sports Engineering @ MIT, Engineering A Golf Swing, Static Stretching Decreases Muscle Strength

Robot Tennis Partners Coming Soon?

The robots in the video, and many more, are being tested at the Flying Machine Arena at the The Institute for Dynamic Systems and Control, Department of Mechanical and Process Engineering, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology – Zurich.

They also usually have a number of challenging projects available. Qualified, motivated students should visit the Theses/Projects page and contact them to learn more. We need more people working on these types of things so I can have my robot basketball team available when I want to play.

Related: Robot Playing Table TennisRobocup 2010, Robot FootballDolphin Kick Gives Swimmers Edge

sOccket: Power Through Play

In a fun example of appropriate technology and innovation 4 college students have created a football (soccer ball) that is charged as you play with it. The ball uses an inductive coil mechanism to generate energy, thanks in part to a novel Engineering Sciences course, Idea Translation. They are beta testing the ball in Africa: the current prototypes can provide light 3 hours of LED light after less than 10 minutes of play. Jessica Matthews ’10, Jessica Lin ’09, Hemali Thakkara ’11 and Julia Silverman ’10 (see photo) created the eco-friendly ball when they all were undergraduates at Harvard College.

photo of sOccket creators: Jessica Matthews, Jessica Lin, Hemali Thakkara and Julia Silverman

sOccket creators: Jessica Matthews, Jessica Lin, Hemali Thakkara and Julia Silverman

They received funding from: Harvard Institute for Global Health and the Clinton Global Initiative University. The

sOccket won the Popular Mechanics Breakthrough Award, which recognizes the innovators and products poised to change the world. A future model could be used to charge a cell phone.

From Take part: approximately 1.5 billion people worldwide use kerosene to light their homes. “Not only is kerosene expensive, but its flames are dangerous and the smoke poses serious health risks,” says Lin. Respiratory infections account for the largest percentage of childhood deaths in developing nations—more than AIDS and malaria.

Related: High school team presenting a project they completed to create a solution to provide clean waterWater Pump Merry-go-RoundEngineering a Better World: Bike Corn-ShellerGreen Technology Innovation by College Engineering Students

Watch a June 2010 interview on the ball:
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NHL Experiments with the Rules of Hockey

The NHL’s ice-capades

The players—who were, in an attention-getting wrinkle, mostly top junior stars eligible for the 2011 draft—road-tested everything from two-on-two overtime to shallower nets to having the second referee view the play from an elevated off-ice platform. On day two, viewers were confronted with the bizarre spectacle of the traditional five faceoff circles being replaced by three, running up the middle of the rink.

Placed in charge of the R & D effort, and the sales job surrounding it, is retired hockey great Brendan Shanahan, now the league’s vice-president of hockey and business development. “There were some ideas that were adventurous and others that were subtle,” says Shanahan, about the recent camp. “I wanted to capture the full spectrum.” Shanahan, who had the final say on the testing schedule, takes the scientist’s view that a “negative” experimental result can be as useful and instructive as a “positive” one. “Sometimes you just have to see things play out to really satisfy your curiosity,” he says. “What I told people that got sort of frightened at some of our far-out ideas is that sometimes your goal is to breathe life into an idea—but other times, you try it out because it’s time to put it to bed.”

I applaud their willingness to try experiments. I am a sports fan who doesn’t find much interest in the NHL, but I do enjoy Olympic hockey.

Related: Teen Goalie Designs Camouflage PadsEngineering a Better FootballRandomization in SportsBaseball Pitch Designed in the Lab

Friday Fun: Aerodynamics for Sports

“Impossible” Soccer Kick Leads to New Physics Equation

The amazing goal — which left French goalkeeper Fabien Barthez too stunned to react — was scored during a friendly match in the run up to the 1998 World Cup. A group of French scientists, perhaps desperate to prove that at least the laws of physics weren’t actively rooting against their national team, have been able to figure out the trajectory of the ball and, with it, an equation to describe its unusual path.

It all comes down to the fact that, when a sphere spins, its trajectory is a spiral. Usually, gravity and the relatively short distance the ball travels cover up this spiral trajectory, but Carlos was a mere 115 feet away and kicked the ball hard enough to reveal its true spiral-like path.

In this open access paper, the spinning ball spiral, the authors explore the science behind ball paths in different situations.

one can identify sports dominated by aerodynamics (table tennis, golf and tennis) and sports dominated by gravity (basketball and handball). In between, we find sports where both gravity and aerodynamics play a comparable role (soccer, volleyball and baseball). Indeed, in the first category of sports, the spin is systematically used, while it is not relevant in the second category, and it only appears occasionally in the third one, in order to produce surprising trajectories.

Related: Friday Fun: Amazing GoalThe Science of the Football SwerveEngineering a Better Football

Friday Fun: Robocup 2010, Robot Football

Robocup 2010 took place in Singapore and 2 German team faced each other in the finals. Robocup is an international research and education initiative. RoboCupRescue is a related effort to develop rescue robots for hostile environments.

Related: RoboCup 2008: Robot Football (Soccer)Robot Playing Table TennisToyota Develops Thought-controlled Wheelchair

Friday Fun: Amazing Goal

This amazing goal illustrates what is possible with an amazing football (soccer) player and some physics.

Related: The Science of the Football SwerveEngineering a Better Football
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Basketball Padding

Basketball used to be considered a non-contact sport. Now more and more college and pro players are wearing padding. March Madness, this year with more padding

Plumlee and dozens of other college basketball players wear compression shirts and shorts dotted with foam and plastic shock-absorbing pads under their uniforms. There are also padded sleeves for the elbows and knees. In the past few years players have started to wear this layer of protective gear meant to feel like a second-skin in a sport that has bigger, faster and stronger athletes than ever.

“Some of the things you’ll see like these products, a lot of them tend to be more fads that come and go,” he said. “But anything that comes down over the edge of a bony prominence, or on the knee, makes sense. For the ribs — there’s cartilage that is a natural shock absorber so I don’t know how truly affective that piece might be.”

Purchase: McDavid knee and elbow padsMcDavid Hex Power Shooter Arm SleeveHexpad Thudd with Extended Thigh

Related: Teen Goalie Designs Camouflage PadsEngineering Basketball FlopEngineering A Golf SwingThe Glove, Engineering Coolness

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