14 June 2018

World Cup Starts Today!

To whet your appetite for the start of the 2018 World Cup, you can listen to Neil deGrasse Tyson and me yap about soccer science on last night's episode of StarTalk's Playing with Science.  Click on the link below to learn about soccer science in the World Cup.

My only complaint is that the graphics people at Playing with Science didn't use a Telstar 18 ball in the photo!  The last time the traditional 32-panel ball was used in the World Cup was in 2002 when the Fevernova ball was the official ball in South Korea and Japan.  Forget the photo and listen to the podcast!

21 May 2018

Newly Published Telstar 18 Research

My paper on this year's World Cup ball, the Telstar 18, finally went live this past Saturday.  The Journal of Sports Engineering and Technology has graciously allowed the paper to be open access at least until the start of the World Cup.  Click here to download the paper.  My colleagues and coauthors at the University of Tsukuba in Japan, Sungchan Hong and Takeshi Asai, created a short video (48 s) of the Telstar 18 in their wind tunnel.  I put it on my YouTube channel.
As a physicist, I love seeing all the clever ways we humans have devised to study our world.  Wind tunnels are marvelous machines that allow us to determine aerodynamic properties of numerous items, including soccer balls.  Check out our paper and see how I take my colleagues' wind-tunnel data and use it to predict trajectories of Telstar 18 in flight.  We compared Telstar 18 to Brazuca, which was used in the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.  Check out how Telstar 18 will fly in Russia.  Just 24 more days until the start of the World Cup!

19 April 2018

World Cup Soccer Ball Physics

Last night's episode of StarTalk's Playing with Science got us primed for the World Cup, which begins in Russia on 14 June.  I was on during the last half hour or so of the show and talked about my latest published research.  My colleagues at the University of Tskuba in Japan, Takeshi Asai and Sungchan Hong, have worked with me on several research projects.  We showed in 2014 why Brazuca was superior to Jabulani, balls used in 2014 and 2010 World Cups, respectively, and we have just published research on the Telstar 18, which is this year's World Cup ball.  My colleagues got wind-tunnel data on the ball and I did all the data analysis and trajectory modeling.  It's a great partnership!  I discussed the aerodynamics of the new ball and compared it to Brazuca on last night's show.  Click on the link below to hear all about it.

I simply LOVE talking about sports physics, especially the flight of soccer balls.  It's too bad that Russia is a bit out of my travel range this summer.  I would love to see the new ball in action.  I will do like most of the world and watch on television.  The photo below (click on image for a larger view) shows me holding Brazuca (right hand) and Telstar 18 (left hand).  At $160 apiece, I'm glad that I don't have to buy the balls!
I thank John McCormick here at Lynchburg College for taking that photo.

11 April 2018

Cheating and Physics in Cricket

The international sports world was recently rocked when the Australian cricket team was caught cheating during a test match against South Africa.  A bowler was filmed roughening up a ball with what appeared to be sandpaper.  It is nearly impossible to compete on the elite stages of sport and not have every move filmed with high-definition video.  I discussed the physics of cricket, specifically the aerodynamics of the ball in flight and how cheating leads to "reverse swing," on tonight's episode of StarTalk's Playing with Science.  Click on the link below for the episode.
I love talking about the physics of sports, but I hate it that a cheating scandal prompted my participation.  Honesty is of paramount importance to me and I hate to see cheating in sport.  If you can't quite reach the mountaintop, train harder!  If you still can't reach the mountaintop and you've done your best, accept the fact that not everyone can be #1 at the same time.  There are worse things in the world than being the 10th best cricket bowler or 5th best home run hitter or 15th best cyclist.

I do hope you enjoy the episode.  I had a blast talking cricket physics.  I even had my own cricket ball to use for demonstrations!

08 March 2018

Great Time at AFIT!

My trip to the Air Force Institute of Technology earlier this week was very quick, but a lot of fun.  My host, Adedeji Badiru, is someone I first interacted with about eight years ago, but only met in person for the first time during my visit.  I had a great audience for my talk, many of whom serve in our armed forced (mainly Air Force).  My talk began with something new for me and something I felt really good about doing.  I thanked those in the audience for their service in our country's armed forces.

My talked focused on research my students, colleagues, and I have done with World Cup soccer balls and with modeling the Tour de France.  In the photo below, I'm talking about the Brazuca ball used in the 2014 World Cup in Brazil (click on image for a larger view).
During the part of my talk when I discussed the Tour de France, I had to show a classic from introductory physics:  the inclined plane (click on image for a larger view).
It was kind of the people hosting me to snap a few photos while I was giving my talk.  I got some great questions afterwards and now have a couple things to think about regarding future work.  There is nothing like sharing science and getting feedback from curious, smart people.

I had about two hours after my talk before I needed to get to the airport.  On the advice of my host, I stopped at the National Museum of the United States Air Force.  Wow!  That place is amazing and I thoroughly recommend stopping there if you are close to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base near Dayton, Ohio.  There is no charge to get in and so many wonderful exhibits and planes await you.  I was thrilled to walk through President John Kennedy's Air Force One, the VC-137C SAM 26000 (click on image for a larger view).
Being in the plane where Lyndon Johnson was sworn in after John Kennedy was assassinated was a little chilling (click here for a very famous photo).

What really got me giddy was seeing equipment used by the Wright Brothers in their flight experiments.  As someone who plays with wind-tunnel data for soccer balls, I truly loved seeing the wind tunnel shown below (click on image for a larger view).
Is that not cool, or what?!?  I'll definitely have to make a return trip to Dayton and spend more time in that wonderful museum.

27 February 2018

Invited Talk at AFIT Next Week

I was extremely flattered to be invited to give a talk at the Air Force Institute of Technology as part of their Dean's Distinguished Guest Speaker series.  I'll be at the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base near Dayton, Ohio.  Below is a flyer for my talk (click on image for a larger view).
If you happen to be in the Dayton area, stop by for some fun sports physics!

22 February 2018

The Thrills and Speed of Alpine Skiing

Tonight's episode of StarTalk's Playing with Science concerned alpine skiing.  Erin Mielzynski and Andrew Weibrecht joined us on the show.  It was a blast talking to them!  You won't believe how fast one can fly down a hill on skis.  Click on the link below to listen to the show.
This is the third of three Winter Olympics shows I recorded.  Meeting great athletes and learning a little bit about how they train and perform has been thrilling for me.  My jaw drops when I see them in action.  Teasing out all the great physics only makes what they do all the more fascinating!

16 February 2018

Ronaldo's PK: Black Magic or Simple Physics?

Did you see the crazy penalty kick Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo let loose against Paris Saint-German this past Valentine's Day?  In the 45th minute, Ronaldo blasted the ball into the left side of the net.  What made people's jaws drop was what happened to the ball just prior to Ronaldo's famous right boot making contact with the ball.  The ball popped off the turf!  You can see the video here where "black magic" is referred to.

I did a frame-by-frame analysis for i News in the UK.  There was, of course, no black magic involved!  Check out the images below (click on image for a larger view).
As Ronaldo planted his left boot, a pressure wave was initiated in the turf.  A crinkle was all it took to get the ball to hop off the turf about a centimeter.  Click here for more details in the story by Will Magee.  Getting ball off the turf prior to kicking saved a little energy loss from friction between the ball and turf.  Hard to stop that shot!

15 February 2018

Curling is AWESOME!

StarTalk's Playing with Science aired an episode on curling yesterday evening.  I had a LOT of fun doing that episode!  Curling is one, cool spot.  There is plenty of fascinating physics and an unanswered question or two.  Check out the show via the link below.
My plan was to post the above show's link last night, but the shooting in Florida took my thoughts elsewhere.

How many slaughtered will it take?

My cousin notified me of yesterday's atrocity in southern Florida.  Broward County?  That's where my sister's family lives and where her kids go to school.  I called my sister.  "Is that [my nephew]'s school?"  "No.  His school is in the neighboring district."  Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland is eight miles from my sister's house.  She described to me scenes of roads packed with cars as parents raced to their kids.  Friends of my sister had a son in that school yesterday.

What I described above is as close as I've ever been to a school shooting (I did know a student at Virginia Tech in 2007).  I know what's it like to lose a child.  I know what it's like for a moral monster to steal half my children's childhoods from me.  I know what's it like to be told a friend was murdered with a gun.  I've known parents who watched a state trooper pull his car in their driveway and inform them that their child was killed in a car wreck.  My guess is that anyone reading this will share some or all of what I've experienced.  I suspect there is a reader or two who has been directly affected by a school shooting.  I don't know what it's like to send one of my daughters to school and never see her alive again.  I hope I never experience such a horror.  Any tragedy in my life pales in comparison to a parent sending a child off to school, only to have that child be murdered.

How many dead children are enough?  How many people, simply going about their lives, working, playing, etc have to be slaughtered before the needle of sense moves in my country?  When do we in the US have our Dunblane?  When do we have our Port ArthurSandy Hook saw 27 murdered, but that didn't change anything.  Last October, 58 people were shot dead in Las Vegas, but that didn't change anything.  I couldn't possibly list all the mass shootings in the US because I have to feed my girls dinner in a couple hours.  I read yesterday (click here) that we've now had four shootings at middle and high schools in 2018.  Yesterday was just the 45th day of the year.  Children are taken through "shooter in the building" drills in schools in present day America.  My girls never did that during their school year in England.

We are learning about all kinds of mental issues associated with the loathsome individual who destroyed countless lives yesterday.  What astounds me is that many of the same people who so ferociously defend our "right" to own and use an AR-15 or a Bushmaster or some other military weapon simultaneously rail against universal health care and more money for mental illness treatment.  There are plenty of people with mental issues in countries that have serious gun restrictions.  This problems isn't confined to mental issues.  The ease of obtaining a weapon that can end many lives in a short time is obscene.

Like many other politicians, President Trump offered "prayers and condolences" yesterday.  No matter how good the intentions or how warmed people may be to receive "prayers and condolences," I have to ask, when is that bullshit going to end?  When are people going to embrace reality and actually DO something in the here and now?  Will it take a politician's kid being murdered to get something done?  What if a lobbyist's child gets shot at school?  Or a celebrity's kid?  Does the death count have to reach triple figures in a massacre to make us think that, perhaps, we don't need assault rifles?  Are we going to go nuts in the other direction and have guards armed to the teeth walking down every corridor in every school?  I need not insult my readers by detailing the absurdity of that scenario.

If by chance anyone is reading this that has been affected by a school shooting, please know that I'm filled with sadness and anger over what happened yesterday.  Kids in Parkland are not alive today because of a "blessing" or "luck."  They are alive because they were not in the wrong place at the wrong time.  The power to take a life, many lives in fact, is too easy to acquire in my country.  Four shootings in middle and high schools in just 45 days so far this year.  What's in store for the next week-and-a-half?

07 February 2018

Winter Olympics! Let's Talk Figure Skating!

Tonight's episode of StarTalk's Playing with Science will get you ready for the Winter Olympics, which begins this Friday in PyeongChang, South Korea.  We talked figure skating, which is so many people's favorite event come Winter Olympics time.  A very special guest is on the show, Olympic Medalist Sasha Cohen.  I have such wonderful memories watching her compete in the figure skating competition at the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin, Italy.  My older daughter, Emily, and I rooted Sasha on like crazy.  Emily wasn't quite two-and-a-half at the time, but she got a great introduction to Olympic skating.  My younger daughter, Abby, was born less than a month later.  I recall patting my wife's belly and telling Abby to root for Sasha while she skated.  Abby doesn't remember that!  Sasha took home the silver.

The link for tonight's show is given below.  Also on the show is Jackie Wong, who I thoroughly enjoyed talking to.  He hosts the podcast Ice Talk.   Check it out!
The video producer at StarTalk was kind enough to send me a screen capture when I was posing a question to Sasha Cohen (click on the image below for a larger view). 
I actually had to leave the show earlier than I wanted.  I had to drive across town and give a keynote address at Randolph College.  No need to have a tie on otherwise!

03 February 2018

Physics of the Quad Cork 1800

I worked on a piece for WIRED Magazine that appears in its February issue.  Billy Morgan successfully executed the famed snowboarding trick known as the quad cork 1800.  I analyzed the trick from start to finish and WIRED has a phenomenal two-page photographic spread that shows the entire trick from stroboscopic images.  I calculated several numbers, from launch speed to landing force.  Check out the nice spread on pages 20-21 (volume 26, issue 2).  I worked with Sophia Chen on the piece and she did a great job putting it all together!  Click here for a sneak peak.

01 February 2018

Great fun giving my talk!

I thoroughly enjoyed giving the keynote address at Randolph College last Saturday for the United States Association for Young Physicists Tournament (USAYPT).  My audience got to hear about my Tour de France research and my research on World Cup soccer balls.  It was my first chance to speak about the Telstar 18, which will be used in Russian during this summer's World Cup.  My friend and colleague Peter Sheldon took the photo below as I was on stage giving my talk (click on image for a larger view).
During talks and media experiences, I like to sell the virtues of my college, Lynchburg College.  I'm always looking for new students to join us at Lynchburg College, major in physics, and contribute to my research.  Students have always played a central role in my sports research.  I was treated very well at Randolph College and I'm happy give that school a shout-out here.  Check out what Peter has going on in the Department of Physics there!

24 January 2018

Martial Arts Repeat

Tonight's Playing with Science episode is a repeat, but it happens to be the fan favorite episode for 2017 (click here for the poll results).  If you missed the martial arts episode, check it out!
I'm thrilled fans of the show voted this episode their favorite Playing with Science episode.  I'm in the process of completing my Krav Maga book.  I hope it'll be available early in 2019.

23 January 2018

Keynote Talk this Saturday

I was extremely flattered to be asked to give the keynote address for the United States Association for Young Physicists Tournament (USAYPT) at Randolph College here in Lynchburg.  My talk will be this coming Saturday, 27 January 2018, at 4:15 pm in Smith Hall Theatre.  A poster appears below (click on image for a larger view).
This will be my first talk of the year, and it will be the first talk in which I discuss the Telstar 18 soccer ball, which will be used in Russia for this year's World Cup.  I look forward to meeting the talented high school students at the tournament!

18 January 2018

Playing with Science Mix

StarTalk's Playing with Science put together a nice mix from the first two seasons.  I get to chime in on the show.  Click the link below for last night's episode.
It was a lot of fun working with Playing with Science in 2017!  Who knows what's in store for this year with the Winter Olympics and World Cup ...?

31 December 2017

Physics and Psychology Aid Callahan's Punt Return TD!

The Chicago Bears finished a rather dreadful season with a loss to the Minnesota Vikings today, 23-10.  The Bears did have a fun play that I got to analyze for TuneIn's Ho Huddle.  With just over six minutes left in the first half, the Vikings faced a 4th and 9 at their own 16-yard line.  Vikings' punter Ryan Quigley (#4) punted the ball from Minnesota's 7-yard line (click on image below for a larger view).
You can see in the above screen capture that Quigley was right on the 7-yard line when the ball left his right shoe.  The ball was punted at almost 60 mph and over 60 degrees to the horizontal.  For an incredibly short amount of time, the force between shoe and ball on a good punt can be over 1000 pounds.  The punted ball traveled 53 yards and had a hang time of 4.24 seconds.

The problem for the Vikings was that the Bears' Tarik Cohen (#29) played the perfect decoy.  He was on the right side of the field and acted as if he was going to catch Quigley's punt.  But Bryce Callahan (#37) was on the left side of the field and caught the punt while sliding on his own 40-yard line (click on image below for a larger view).
Look at Cohen with his arms out like he's about to catch the punt!  The Vikings' Jayron Kearse (#27) is running full speed at Cohen while Callahan has just caught the punt.  The screen capture below shows when Callahan got up after his slide (click on image for a larger view).
You can see the purple blurs heading toward Cohen!  I couldn't tell from the video I watched, but Quigley should have been yelling at his teammates, telling them where his punt was headed.  Even though the Vikings were at home, the noise level could have been in the 70 dB - 100 dB range, which corresponds to the sound a vacuum cleaner makes all the way up to what a busy subway sounds like.  Quigley's teammates down the field probably wouldn't have heard him if he was yelling.

Callahan could get up after his slide and run because the NFL doesn't use college football rules.  The screen capture below shows that Callahan had many blockers in front of him (click on image for a larger view).
The Vikings are headed to the right while Callahan is preparing to run down the left side of the field.  Cohen did such a good job selling the fake that Kearse nearly ran into Cohen and had to veer off to Cohen's left upon realizing that Cohen didn't have the ball.  Check out the screen capture below, which shows five Vikings near Cohen, all realizing too late that they ran after the wrong player (click on image for a larger view).
Meanwhile, Callahan was hitting a top speed of 19 mph in Vikings' territory (click on image below for a larger view).
Callahan crossed the goal line at about 16 mph, having slowed a little to celebrate (click on image below for a larger view).
A lot of great physics for sure, but psychology had the Vikings off course and chasing the wrong Bear!  The Bears finished 5-11 this year, but left me with a fun play to analyze before bringing their season to a close.

Chuck Nice of Playing with Science joined me on today's segment.  As he always does, Chuck set up the play really well before tossing it over to me for the nerdy stuff.  Click here for our segment.  The NFL regular season finished up today, but like the 13-3 Vikings, we football fans are anxious for the playoffs to begin!

28 December 2017

Extended Classic: The Science of "The Catch"

This past Wednesday night's episode of Playing with Science took another look at Odell Beckham Jr's famous one-handed catch.  Click on the link below to hear me discussing the physics behind the catch.

It's a great time of year to talk football physics!

24 December 2017

Gurley Outruns Titans!

The Los Angeles Rams edged the Tennessee Titans today, 27-23.  The Rams were helped in their efforts by an incredible run by Todd Gurley (#30) that took place with less than five minutes to go in the first half.  The Rams faced 2nd and 11 from their own 20-yard line.  Quarterback Jared Goff (#16) -- no relation! --was in the shotgun (click on image for a larger view).
You can see Gurley standing to the right of Goff.  I've also circled Johnathan Cyprien (#37), the strong safety for the Titans.  Cyprien was blitzing.  The screen capture below shows Cyprien's view of Goff before the play started (click on image for a larger view).
After Goff took the snap, he backpedaled to the Rams' 10-yard line before throwing a screen pass toward Gurley.  But Gurley was lucky to even receive the ball because Cyprien almost tipped Goff's pass.  Check out the screen capture below (click on image for a larger view).
I've cropped the original screen capture and blown up the image, which is why it's a little grainy.  Using a standard length measurement associated with Goff's height, I estimated that Cyprien's fingers missed the football by less than four inches.  Football really is a game of inches!

Gurley caught Goff's screen pass at the Rams' 15-yard line, which was 5 yards behind the line of scrimmage (click on image for a larger view).
Notice that Gurley is turning clockwise (as seen from above) in preparation for his run.  What got Gurley to the end zone 10.5 seconds later wasn't just the blockers in front of him.  The Rams benefited from Gurley's amazing speed.  Gurley simply outran all the Titans!  Not long after crossing midfield, Gurley hit a maximum speed of almost 22 mph (click on image for a larger view).
Look at those Tennessee defenders trying to catch Gurley!  To put his 22-mph speed into perspective, consider Usain Bolt.  At the peak of his sprinting powers, Bolt exceeded 27 mph.  But he wasn't wearing pads and a helmet that total almost 20 pounds!

Check out Gurley scoring below (click on image for a larger view).
Fast-twitching muscles and blinding speed on the part of Todd Gurley allowed Jared Goff to throw a football 5 yards and get credited for an 80-yard touchdown pass.  How great is that?

I tracked where Gurley was as he passed each yard line.  I then determined his velocity component in the direction perpendicular to the yard lines.  The plot below shows Gurley's run just after he caught the ball and got going (click on image for a larger view).
Gurley ran most of those 85 yards along the left hash marks.  Just before reaching the Titans' 15-yard line, he ran toward his right to avoid tacklers.  His speed dropped as he neared the goal line, but not quite as much as the above graph indicates.  By running toward his right, Gurley added to his velocity a component parallel to the yard lines.

Chuck Nice of Playing with Science joined me on TuneIn's No Huddle to chat about Gurley's magnificent run.  Click here for our segment.

20 December 2017

Extended Classic: The Immaculate Reception

Tonight's episode of Playing with Science revisits the Immaculate Reception, which was a famous catch (or not?!?) by Franco Harris of the Pittsburgh Steelers during the 1972 NFL playoffs.  Click on the link below to hear me and others talking football physics.
 It's always fun talking sports physics, especially physics on the gridiron!

17 December 2017

A Bullet from Keenum to Diggs!

The Minnesota Vikings obliterated the hapless Cincinnati Bengals today, 34-7.  With less than seven minutes to go in the second quarter, Case Keenum (#7) fired a bullet to Stefon Diggs (#14) that pushed the Vikings lead to 23-0, but Diggs took a couple mighty hits after scoring.  Check out the Vikings' shotgun formation on 2nd and 16 from the Bengals' 20-yard line (click on image for a larger view).
Note Cincinnati cornerback Tony McRae (#29) covering Diggs.  Another look at the formation shows the one Bengal on defense that you can't see in the above screen capture.  Check out the view from behind Keenum (click on image for a larger view).
Standing just inside the Bengals' 5-yard line is free safety Clayton Fejedelem (#42).  McRae and Fejedelem were about to become the bread in a Stefon Diggs sandwich!

Keenum took 2.24 s from the snap to throw his pass.  The Bengals rushed four, but the Vikings had five offensive lineman in pass protection.  Keenum threw the ball from the Bengals' 27-yard line while inside a perfect pocket (click on image for a larger view).
That's some great blocking for Keenum!  Diggs was running a post route and Keenum fired the ball at 50.1 mph at 15.8 degrees above the horizontal.  The ball reached Diggs 1.30 s later at 46.4 mph.  Air drag was about 17% of the ball's weight just after Keenum released the ball.  The plot below shows the trajectory of Keenum's pass (click on image for a larger view).
Diggs was running about 16 mph when he caught the ball at the goal line (click on image for a larger view).
But notice what was about to happen to Diggs.  Immediately after crossing the goal line, Diggs was met on his left by Fejedelem and on his right by McRae.  The two Bengals crunched Diggs a couple yards into the end zone.  Fejedelem hit Diggs with an average force in excess of 500 pounds, and that was very quickly followed by a hit from McRae with a similar force.  Look at the start of the hits (click on image for a larger view).
From another view, you can see what that 500-pound hit by Fejedelem looked like (click on image for a larger view).
Now look at the next screen capture as McRae gets his hit on Diggs (click on image for a larger view).
What's incredibly lucky for Diggs is that he was ever-so-slightly ahead of the two Bengals' defenders.  The last image I'll show you of the hits demonstrates that fact, but still makes it clear that football collisions are violent (click on image for a larger view).
Diggs surely thought a little pain was worth the score!  Had he not been a tiny bit ahead of his tacklers, he might have felt forces greater than 1000 pounds during a very short time interval.  Don't forget Newton's third law though, though.  The two players who tackled Diggs felt equal-magnitude forces from Diggs.

After Diggs got up from the two big hits he took, he celebrated by going to the back of the end zone and fired the ball into the purple padding behind the end zone.  He actually threw the ball at about 41 mph, which wasn't that much slower than the pass he had just caught from Keenum!  Check out Diggs throwing the ball (click on image for a larger view).
Gary O'Reilly of Playing with Science joined me on TuneIn's No Huddle to discuss the play.  As always, Gary did a great job setting the play up before I threw some physics into the discussion.  Gary noted that if Diggs doesn't spike the ball when he scores, watch out for his throw!  Click here for our segment.

10 December 2017

Snow Physics Helps the Bills!

Who doesn't love playing football in the snow?  If you get lucky and have some snow on Thanksgiving, you go all out in the Turkey Bowl, diving for catches and sliding in the snow.  How great is it that professional football keeps being played whether it's raining, windy, or snowing?  The Indianapolis Colts visited the Buffalo Bills today and were treated to wind and snow.  The Bills won in overtime, 13-7, in a game in which snow physics played a major role.

Scoreless near the end of the first half, the Bills had 1st and goal at the Colts 8 yard line.  Check out the formation below (click on image for a larger view).
I've circled four key players in the above screen capture.  Look at that field and note that the image isn't crisp because it was snowing at the time.  Players in snow can lose about 30% of the friction on their shoes from what they're used to.  They can't run with long strides or they risk slipping.  A football brought from a warm locker room can lose a couple psi because air molecules aren't bouncing around inside the ball as much as they were in the locker room.  The air temperature in Buffalo at the time of the above play was about 30 F.  Air at that temperature is about 9% denser than air in a balmy 75-F stadium, and that added air density makes for more air resistance on passes.

Snow physics helped the Bills score from the formation shown above.  The Colts rushed just four, but there is a reason I circled left defensive end, Margus Hunt (#92) in the above image.  Check out the image below, which is 2.6 s after the above image (click on image for a larger view).
Margus Hunt slipped and fell forward in the snow!  All of a sudden, the right side of the Bills line had no rush to block and there was no defender on that side to swat the pass.  By the time Hunt got up, it was too late.  The screen capture below shows Bills quarterback Nathan Peterman (#2) releasing his pass at 45 mph and 21 degrees above the horizontal (click on image for a larger view).
The ball was released outside the Colts 10 yard line.  Bills wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin (#13) only reached 11 mph prior to crossing the goal line.  He caught the pass 1.43 s after Peterman released the ball (click on image for a larger view).
Note Colts cornerback Christopher Milton (#28) looking over his left shoulder.  He had gotten turned around in the snow and didn't have enough shoe friction in the snow to close the gap and stop Benjamin from making the catch.  Benjamin caught the pass while it was moving at about 41 mph.  Benjamin's padded gloves increased friction with the ball so that he could secure the catch in the snow.  Check out his perfect two-handed catch below (click on image for a larger view).
Milton certainly had a great view of Benjamin's catch!  Credit Benjamin for superb fundamentals.  Though Benjamin couldn't reach his top speed while running with short strides in the snow, slippery snow physics hurt the Colts' defense!

The trajectory of Peterman's pass is shown below (click on image for a larger view).

The ball only got about 5 yards above the snow on its flight to Benjamin's gloves.  But that was all the height needed for a pass thrown at the 11 yard line and caught halfway into the end zone near the right sideline.

Chuck Nice of Playing with Science joined me on TuneIn's No Huddle to discuss some snow physics and the above play.  Chuck was great setting up the play and then I rambled about the physics.  Click here for our segment.  We got a little snow in Lynchburg yesterday, but I'm jealous of all the snow in Buffalo!

03 December 2017

Tarik Cohen's INSANE Punt Return

The Chicago Bears lost a nail-biter to the Francisco 49ers today, 15-14.  But the Bears didn't disappoint as football fans were treated to an incredible punt return in the second quarter.  San Francisco's Bradley Pinion (#5) received the snap and launched his punt at about the 49ers 7-yard line (click on the image for a larger view).
Pinion's punt traveled about 54 yards in the air with a hang time of 4.2 s.  That's a typical hang time and should have given the 49ers plenty of time to get downfield to defend against the punt return.  But their defense looked more like a Tour de France peloton than proper football pursuit!

Chicago's Tarik Cohen (#29) fielded the ball at the Bears 39-yard line (click on the image for a larger view).

Note that Cohen caught the punt just to the left of the painted 40 on the field.  Chaos ensued after Cohen's catch!  He first noticed two 49ers about 8 yards in front of him.  He then ran backwards and to his right.  Check out the screen capture below, which is 2 s after Cohen caught the punt (click on image for a larger view).
San Francisco's Aldrick Robinson (#19) had both his hands on Cohen!  But Cohen kept running backwards.  Check out the 49ers pursuit when Cohen got to the other side of the field (click on image for a larger view).
There are SEVEN 49ers running after Cohen with no blockers in their way!  The problem is that they all ran as one.  Instead of fanning out and covering more of the field, they looked like a cycling peloton or a flock of birds changing directions.

Cohen ran back across the field to nearly the spot where he caught the punt.  His teardrop-shaped path backwards towards the other side of the field took 8 s off the clock!  He then hit his own 40-yard line and turned on the jets.  He sprinted 50 yards, hitting a top speed of just over 20 mph.  Slowing to 15 mph for the final 10 yards, Cohen crossed the goal line nearly 15 s after he caught the punt! (click on image for a larger view)
Though he was credited with a 61-yard punt return, Cohen ran about 119 yards in total!  That was nearly TWICE was he was credited for!  He also had to catch the punt while staring into the sun.  That was one amazing punt return!

Gary O'Reilly of Playing with Science joined me on TuneIn's No Huddle to discuss this play.  Gary did a great job setting up the play and then I yapped some physics.  Click here for our segment.  A fun play to analyze!

26 November 2017

Wildcat Keeps Sanu Perfect!

The Atlanta Falcons beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers today, 34-20.  The play I analyzed for TuneIn's No Huddle took place early in the 2rd quarter and broke a 3-3 tie.  The Falcons faced a 3rd and 1 from their own 49.5-yard line.  Former Rutgers quarterback and Falcons wide receiver Mohamed Sanu (#12) was in the shotgun.  The Falcons had pulled the wildcat formation out of their playbook.  Running back Tevin Coleman (#26) was lined up to Sanu's left.  Julio Jones (#11) was in the left slot with the Bucs' Robert McClain (#36) lined up opposite Jones.  The screen capture below shows the formation and defensive set (click on image for a larger view).
Did the Bucs think Sanu would run for the 1st down?  If so, that was a costly mistake!

McLain looked like he got a little lost on the play.  He left Jones not long after the snap.  He turned to cover the wide out.  That left Jones in single coverage with Bucs safety Justin Evans (#21).  Not long after the snap, Sanu faked the hand-off to Coleman, but the ball was bobbled.  Check out the screen capture below as Coleman's right hip knocked the ball out of Sanu's hands (click on image for a larger view).
Sanu recovered the ball from the air and threw it 3.10 s after the snap.

By the time Sanu threw the ball, Jones was running at about the Bucs 33-yard line.  Though Jones averaged almost 16 mph during the entire snap-to-score play, he averaged 19 mph after the ball was thrown.  Sanu released the ball at 53.2 mph and 43.8 degrees above the horizontal.  The ball took 3.27 s to reach Jones.  Air resistance was about 19% of the ball's weight, which is why the ball landed in Jones' gut at 47.1 mph.  Check out the ball's arrival in Jones' gut below (click on image for a larger view).
Jones was falling when he caught the ball, but physics helped him score as his linear momentum took him into the end zone!  See the score below (click on image for a larger view).
Julio Jones may have hated watching yesterday's Iron Bowl, but he surely loved watching that football fly at him from the wildcat position!  And how about Mohamed Sanu?  He is now 6 for 6 in his NFL career with 3 TD passes.  That makes for a PERFECT 158.3 passer rating!  Check out the trajectory of his latest TD pass below (click on image for a larger view).
Sanu's pass soared 16 yards above the turf before reaching Jones.  It was an amazing play for sure.

Chuck Nice from Playing with Science joined me on today's Check Down segment.  He did an amazing job setting up the play before I yapped about the physics.  He loved it when I noted that Sanu's spiral was about 10 revolutions per second or 600 rpm, which is one-and-a-third times faster than a helicopter's rotor blades!  Click here for the live bit we did for TuneIn.