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Science in sports

Engineering a Better Football

The football (soccer ball) for the 2010 FIFA World Cup features completely new, ground-breaking technology. Eight 3-D spherically formed panels are moulded together, harmoniously enveloping the inner carcass. The result is an energetic unit combined with perfect roundness.

Aero grooves create the clearly visible profile on the ball’s surface. The Grip’n’Groove profile circles around the entire ball in an optimal aerodynamic way. The integrated grooves provide unmatched flight characteristics, making this the most stable and most accurate Adidas football. The ground breaking performance features have been confirmed in comprehensive comparison tests at Loughborough University in England and countless checks in wind tunnel and the Adidas football laboratory in Scheinfeld, Germany.

The process, shown in the video, for manufacturing the footballs is way more complicate than I thought it would be.

Related: Full Adidas press releaseThe Science of the Football SwerveEngineering Basketball FlopSports Engineering

Friday Fun: Longest Basketball Shot

Amazing basketball shot from Texas. Popular Science looked at the physics involved:

The horizontal distance to the basket from the launch point is approximately 50 meters, and the launch angle θ is about 20 degrees.

Looking at the horizontal part of the motion and accounting for the launch angle we can then determine the initial speed (v0) of the basketball necessary to cover the horizontal distance in 3.8 seconds. We get

Δx = vhorizontal t = v0cosθt

and therefore v0 = Δx/cosθt = 50 m /[cos 20 (3.8 s)] = 14 m/s

Now if we look at the vertical part of the motion we can determine how far the ball would drop in 3.8 seconds. We’ll then compare our theoretical result to the actual vertical distance from the third deck down to the basket that we observe in the video. (We estimate that drop to be similar to the horizontal distance of about 50 meters.) Therefore, based on the time of flight and the initial velocity that we determined above we calculate a vertical drop of

Δy = v0vertical t + ½ at2 = v0 sin t — ½ gt2 = 14m/s(sin 20)(3.8 s) — ½ (-9.8m/s2 )(3.8)2 = -53 m

Well, this corresponds pretty well to what we see in the video. Even accounting for the effects of air resistance (which we did not address above to keep things simple) the result isn’t altered drastically. The motion recorded in the video (in what appears to be a continuous frame) certainly appears possible according to the laws of physics.

See more videos of circus basketball shots by Dude Perfect.

Related: The Science of the Football SwerveEngineering Basketball FlopDolphin Kick Gives Swimmers Edge

Bike Folds To Footprint of 1 Wheel

Inventor’s Bike Folds Into Its Own Wheel

Dominic Hargreaves‘s bike, The Contortionist, has been shortlisted for this year’s James Dyson Award for innovation. It may bag the young inventor £10,000.

The 24-year-old, from Battersea, London, said he wanted to create a decent folding bike after the one he was using collapsed. “I couldn’t find a folding bicycle I liked,” he added. “I wanted something that could take a bit of punishment and that you could have fun with. “So I made one myself.”

Mr Hargreaves has been in contact with various manufacturers and hopes to get the bike into production soon.

His bike lock system (see photo) won the Toyota IQ Awards.

Related: New Engineering School for EnglandCost Efficient Solar Dish by StudentsEngineering a Better World: Bike Corn-ShellerThe Glove – Engineering Coolness

NCAA Basketball Challenge 2009

Once again I have created a group on the ESPN NCAA Basketball Tournament Challenge for curiouscat college basketball fans. To participate, go to the curiouscat ESPN group and make your picks.

I also created a second challenge, using Sportsline, that rewards picking upsets. The password for this one is cat.

Those readers that enjoy the tournament, please join the fun.

Go Badgers,

Teen Goalie Designs Camouflage Pads

Teen goalie designs pads to trick shots

Leahy sketched out new leg pads that blend into the goal netting behind him. He wanted pads, a trapper, and a blocker that are white with a raised double-stitched design, just like the goal. He applied for a design patent and had them custom-made by a Canada-based pad maker.

“When the shooter comes down and only has a split second to shoot the puck, they’re looking for net,” said Leahy, a senior from Hampton, N.H., who grew up in Byfield. “If you put the net on the pad, they’ll shoot at the pad instead of the goal.”

Exactly what will happen to the pads after this season is unclear. Leahy said he would like to play hockey in college, probably at the club level, and wants to market the idea. “It would definitely be cool to get it out there and get other guys in the future wearing it,” he said.

Related: The Glove – Engineering CoolnessEngineering Basketball FlopScience of the High Jump

Fast Fitness Forecast is False, it Takes Time

Fitness Isn’t an Overnight Sensation

“To make a change in how you look, you are talking about a significant period of training,” Dr. Kraemer said. “In our studies it takes six months to a year.” And, he added, that is with regular strength-training workouts, using the appropriate weights and with a carefully designed individualized program. “That is what the reality is,” he said.

And genetic differences among individuals mean some people respond much better to exercise than others

Now, said Mr. Antane, who runs with a group in Princeton on Thursday nights, “everything changed — my outlook on life, who I hung out with, how I felt about myself.”

Our bodies evolved under conditions with much more exercise than we currently get if we sit in an office all day. And we had less food. It is no surprise with more food and less exercise that we gain weight. And given that the benefit of fat was to help us survive when we had little food out bodies don’t change overnight. If they did then our ancestors would have had much more difficulty surviving – the whole point was to provide a resource to tap in bad times. If that resource dissipated quickly it would not have helped much.

Related: Active Amish Avoid ObesityBig Fat LieEat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.Reducing Risk of Diabetes Through Exerciseposts on exercise

RoboCup: Robot Football (Soccer)

RoboCup aims to, by 2050, develop a team of fully autonomous humanoid robots that can win against the human world champion team in football. As the video shows the teams have a ways to go. But this seems like a great process.

Related: RoboCup German Open 2008Robot Football (2006)The Science of the Football Swerve

How Aerobic Exercise Suppresses Appetite

How aerobic exercise suppresses appetite

Those of you who run, bike, swim, or otherwise engage in aerobic exercise have probably noticed that in spite of burning scads of calories during your chosen activity, the last thing you feel when you’re finished is hungry.

The researchers discovered that aerobic exercise produces increased peptide YY levels while lowering ghrelin, leading to decreased appetite. Weight training was associated with a decrease in ghrelin, but no change in peptide YY, meaning that there was a net suppression of appetite, but not to the same degree as observed with treadmill training. In both cases, changes in appetite lasted for about two hours.

I know I find this to be true for me.

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Static Stretching Decreases Muscle Strength

Stretching: The Truth

Researchers now believe that some of the more entrenched elements of many athletes’ warm-up regimens are not only a waste of time but actually bad for you. The old presumption that holding a stretch for 20 to 30 seconds – known as static stretching – primes muscles for a workout is dead wrong. It actually weakens them.

A well-designed warm-up starts by increasing body heat and blood flow.

To raise the body’s temperature, a warm-up must begin with aerobic activity, usually light jogging. Most coaches and athletes have known this for years.

Athletes who need to move rapidly in different directions, like soccer, tennis or basketball players, should do dynamic stretches that involve many parts of the body. “Spider-Man” is a particularly good drill: drop onto all fours and crawl the width of the court, as if you were climbing a wall.

Related: Scientific MisinformationResearch on Reducing Hamstring InjuriesExercise to Reduce Fatigue

Engineering A Golf Swing

Golf secret not all in the wrists

After decades of research, the world may be closer to the perfect golf swing. University of Surrey engineer Robin Sharp has found the key is not in using full power from the start, but by building up to it quickly.

Surprisingly, the wrists don’t play a critical role in the swing’s outcome, according to the new model. The analysis also shows that while bigger golfers might hit further, it’s not by much. Any golfer will tell you that the idea of swinging harder to hit farther is not as straightforward as it might seem; the new results indicate that how – and when – the power develops is the key to distance.

Prof Sharp used a computer model first to fit to the swing styles of three professionals whose swings were measured with high-speed photography in 1968: Bernard Hunt, Geoffrey Hunt and Guy Wolstenholme.

The model showed that the club-head speed, and thus drive distance, of these professionals could have been improved by increasing the torque quickly to the maximum value and maintaining it throughout the rest of the swing. It’s a delicate balance, however, and Sunday duffers may find it hard to implement Prof Sharp’s prescription.

The application of science to sports is an interesting area. Previous posts: Science of the High JumpSports Engineering @ MITPhysicist Swimming RevolutionBaseball Pitch Designed in the Lab

NFL Stars no Match for Bacteria

NFL stars no match for bacteria

The problem came to the forefront last week with Cleveland Browns player Kellen Winslow, who recently had his second staph infection. He is reportedly the sixth player to acquire staph among the Browns in five years.

Peyton Manning of the Indianapolis Colts was revealed to have a staph infection, the Indianapolis Star reported Friday. University of North Carolina-Asheville fans also recently learned that Kenny George, the 7-foot-7 center on the basketball team, had a staph infection complication that led to part of his foot being amputated. It’s unclear how these high-profile athletes acquired their infections, but locker rooms have been found to habor staph bacteria in previous outbreaks.

A study on the St. Louis Rams published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2003 found that during the 2003 football season, there were eight MRSA infections among five of the 58 Rams players.

Related: CDC Urges Increased Effort to Reduce Drug-Resistant InfectionsAntimicrobial Wipes Often Spread BacteriaTreadmill Desks