10 January 2012

Alabama and Newton's First Law

Congratulations to the University of Alabama for winning the national championship in college football.  I sat in awe last night as I watched the most dominating defensive performance I've ever seen on a college football field. To do what Alabama did to an LSU team with such an impressive season is truly remarkable.  Alabama most certainly deserves its championship.

Watching Alabama's defenders reminded me of Newton's first law, which we apply quite well to the sporting world.  An object in motion with a constant velocity, a velocity that could have zero magnitude, will remain that way unless acted upon by a net external force.  A beautiful statement, right?!?  Any sporting event provides a setting to think of Newton's laws, but I was struck last night by how many times LSU was thwarted on offense.  Click here for the box score of last night's game.  LSU had 92 yards of total offense, 39 of which came on the ground.  So many times, LSU runners were smacked with the reality of Newton's first law.  Just as they reached a constant velocity, a large, external Alabama force met them in a direction opposite their velocity.  Sometimes, that large, external Alabama force reached the LSU runner before he even achieved top speed (because the runner is accelerating just before being hit in this case, Newton's first law is not applicable).

I could obviously use any play from last night's game to talk about all three of Newton's laws.  Instead, I chose to think fondly of the first law each time an LSU runner got smacked with a large, external Alabama force.  Newton's first law can be quite subtle when we first meet it.  I'm always amused when I watch a science fiction movie that has a ship in deep space with engines ablaze.  Hey, if the ship is going a tenth the speed of light, it'll keep doing so unless acted up by a net external force, right?  No need to waste fuel by accelerating closer and closer to the speed of light!  Each Alabama smack down on an LSU runner reminded me that Aristotle had it wrong, and Newton had it right.

1 comment:

  1. oh did the University of Alabama actually win the the national championship in college football??? that is so good news, especially for my wife who is graduated from the University of Alabama, I myself graduated from the University of Alabama where I studied how to become a bookie, a professional bookie, anyway, congrats for the guys from Alabama who won the national championship