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Real Time Strategy (Games) Science

The Physics of Football 163

Ponca City, We Love You writes "There will be a program on applied physics and real time strategy that you might want to watch on television today. Conservation of momentum during elastic and inelastic collisions is one aspect on which to focus as players tackle their opponents. It is of critical importance that the Patriots bring down New York's huge and powerful running back, 6-foot-4, 265-pound Brandon Jacobs. An average-size NFL defensive back's mass combined with his speed — on average, 4.56 seconds for the 40-yard dash — can produce up to 1600 pounds of tackling force. A tackle with half a ton of force may sound like a crippling blow, but the body can handle twice that amount because the player's equipment spreads out the incoming energy, lessening its severity." Nanotech specialists from Cornell have developed their own take on the "physics" of the Super Bowl by creating the world's smallest trophy, which will be awarded today to a contestant who best explains an aspect of football physics. Just some food for thought while you watch the game on your brand new HD television, though you'd better not be watching it in a church.
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The Physics of Football

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  • Go Giants! (Score:2, Funny)

    by Ang31us ( 1132361 )
    Momentum = Mass * Velocity Brandon Jacobs is HUGE and runs very fast.
  • by run4power ( 1205632 ) on Sunday February 03, 2008 @12:29PM (#22282642)
    For those who want to view the submissions, all submissions are uploaded to youtube with the tag "nanobowl".
  • Wrong title (Score:2, Informative)

    by Affenkopf ( 949241 )
    As an European I'd like to point out that the article is not about football but about some strange American sport where the foot isn't even used (or at least not that often,I have no idea to be honest).
    • Re:Wrong title (Score:4, Informative)

      by sayfawa ( 1099071 ) on Sunday February 03, 2008 @12:44PM (#22282750)
      I'd like to point out that this blog is written in American (yes, American, not USian) English. A dialect distinct from the English you may be used to. And in this language football is, in fact, the name of the current subject. Complaining that we use the "wrong" words for things is as silly as complaining that the Spaniards say "juegos" instead of "games". It's a different language. Get over it.
      • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward
        I'd like to point out that slashdot is also American. This is why we have things like the "American Politics" section.
        • by cuby ( 832037 )
          Why don't slashdot cut the access to foreigners? The site is in America, but it was taken by the world long time ago. Don't you be so isolationist.
        • "American website" is an oxymoron. The "web" part stands for the World Wide Web. In what meaningful sense is this site American? I once made a website for an Australian with a business based in France. I wrote it in three languages, clearly and without dialectal usage. I expressed all prices in a variety of currencies, and expressed all measurements in both metric and imperial units. When customers gave their address, there was no assumption made about what country they might be ordering the product f
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        That's true. Regarding Slashdot, if your target audience is national, "football" is ok..on the other hand if your target audience is international use "American Football", unless you want to communicate you're ignorant of the biggest sport on earth named with the same sequence of letters, and serve your percentage of international viewers a title which means something different to them.
        • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

          by Anonymous Coward
          I know! It's so hard to consider context! I need to be spoonfed my stories!
        • Football is the most popular sport in the world, yes, but popularity != best. For example, GWB was the most popular guy in 2004 and I wouldn'd say we've had four banner years... would you?
          • by Cederic ( 9623 )

            Going to the world as a whole, no, I strongly suspect GWB was not the most popular guy in 2004.

          • Not even in the states was he the most popular. The american idol girl got 70million votes and GWB only got 60~. And from a global perspective GWB is vehemently hated and no1 has heard of the american idol people. And Oprah gets more viewers than GWB's adress the nation speeches. Infact i'm sure more people have seen 2girls1cup than GWBs speeches....
          • Football is the most popular sport in the world?

            yes... If you mean soccer
            no... if you mean american football


            • Which brings up a whole new argument []. Do you mean American Football, Association Football, Australian rules Football, Canadian Football, Gaelic football, or Rugby football?
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward
        If you can't even tell a language and a dialect apart (and you obviously can't, given that you refer to US-American English as both), you really shouldn't talk about linguistics. Shut your trap and don't embarass yourself.
        • If you can't even tell a language and a dialect apart .... you really shouldn't talk about linguistics. Shut your trap and don't embarass yourself.

          While it is pretty cut-and-dry for British-vs-American English, the distinction is not always non-controversial. Usually there are political motivations for clouding the distinction, e.g. various "dialects" of Chinese that are mutually unintelligible, or the various Scandinavian "languages" that are to different degrees mutually intelligible (I could go on). S

    • Re: (Score:1, Troll)

      by Ang31us ( 1132361 )
      Hahaha...that's hilarious! New Yorker here (my Giants are playing today)...they kick the ball to open the game (kickoff), after a 6-point score (1 more point after the touchdown), after every score (kickoff), to push the other team back after 3 consecutive failed attempts to advance 10 yards (punt), or to score 3 points if they are within 50 yards of the uprights (field goal).

      I'm happy to call it American football if you're okay to call soccer European or world football.
      • Re:Wrong title (Score:5, Informative)

        by UnxMully ( 805504 ) on Sunday February 03, 2008 @01:35PM (#22283106)
        I'm happy to call it American football if you're okay to call soccer European or world football.

        Feel free. Though I should point out that Soccer is a contraction of Association Football, there's a good article here [], and predates American Football by some time - the first rules being codified in the 1850s. The less charitable among us followers of more robust codes tend to call it Wendyball or poofball, mainly because of all the falling over, rolling about and crying that goes on.

        Then there's Rugby Union (football), which dates from around the same time, and the bastard child Rugby League, aka the thickhead crashball game. Not to mention a whole host of other games including a number of forms played in Ireland (Gaelic) which have been played for close to 700 years.

        Compared to all of these games, American Football can be considered something of a johny-come-lately.

        So call it Football if you want, but the rest of the world differentiates different styles of football even if you're not aware of their existence.
        • Compared to all the people living to today, American football is older. So age is actually nothing meaningful at all in this context.

          Of course, I don't get a hard on for knowing something happened a long time ago, and never understood why anybody would, so maybe I'm wrong - but I doubt anyone could give me a factual reason that I am.
      • Re: (Score:1, Flamebait)

        Wow, it like touches someone feet like a 20 times a game, as opposed to about 20 times in 20 seconds. Also, no-one is using a stupid name like European Football, because unlike the US we are a little more inventive with our sports (as opposed to the only sports invented in the US; rugby with big pads (cos your too girly), netball (girls game) with bouncing and rounders (another girls game) with a big bat, total originality; zero) and there are loads of different types of football here, Association Football
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      Yes, but the ball itself somewhat resembles a foot. So by using those terms, it's not the Europeans who are backwards!
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by drewmoney ( 1133487 )
      20 out of the top 21 leading point makers of the regular 2007 season are kickers. Guess how they put points on the board.....yeah, they kick the ball. NFL Scoring Stats []
      • Couldn't that be because there's usually only 1 kicker on the team who actually plays? Of course there's probably a back-up for when he is injured or whatever, but really there's only 1 kicker on each team. Contrast that with the fact that there are many different players on each team who could run the ball in, or catch it in the endzone.
        • Yes but if it were split a still very respectable percentage of points in most games does indeed come from kicks, either from a field goal or from the extra point attempt that accompanies almost every touchdown (2 point conversion attempts are rare and usually only tried when a team REALLY needs that extra point).

          Bottom line is that we call that sport football. Soccer has such a small popularity base over here (not that I care one way or another, but it's seen by many as somewhat of a "pansy" or "weak-man"
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Blitz22 ( 1122015 )
      The term "football" probably comes from the fact that the sport is played "on foot" as opposed to on horseback. [] So yeah, it IS about football.
    • So if you have no idea, why are you complaining about something in which you've confessed you know very little about?
    • Re:Wrong title (Score:5, Informative)

      by WhatAmIDoingHere ( 742870 ) * <> on Sunday February 03, 2008 @02:32PM (#22283542) Homepage []
      Slashdot seems to be very U.S.-centric. Do you have any plans to be more international in your scope?

      Slashdot is U.S.-centric. We readily admit this, and really don't see it as a problem. Slashdot is run by Americans, after all, and the vast majority of our readership is in the U.S. We're certainly not opposed to doing more international stories, but we don't have any formal plans for making that happen. All we can really tell you is that if you're outside the U.S. and you have news, submit it, and if it looks interesting, we'll post it.
      • by mike2R ( 721965 )
        The point is that we're not complaining about the US centric nature of slashdot. We're just complaining about calling American Football "Football" at all. It's a silly name let's face it. Wimps Rugby would be my proposal :)
    • by Shetan ( 20885 )
      The strange American sport evolved from Rugby Football, in which the foot isn't used that often either. The name didn't make sense long before the colonists customized it.
      • If you watched the England-Wales home international on Saturday (twll du pob Sais!), you'd have seen an awful lot of the use of the boot, mainly by England giving posession away.

        Bloody marvellous, it was!

        • Bloody good game it was too!

          England were way too confident by the 2nd half, Wales deserved the win.

          Can't wait for the rest of the 6 nations tournament.
    • by afabbro ( 33948 )
      I have no idea to be honest

      Thanks for stopping by to share this insightful commentary.

    • Whereas you guys say lift, loo, and colour instead of elevator, bathroom, and color, and yet *somehow* we still get the gist of what you're trying to say.

      English is a pretty widespread language, and regional/generational variance in any language is completely normal -- that's how languages evolve. There's no "right" version of English, but they don't teach you that until college (that's right, screw you, Junior High English teachers!!).
    • As an European I'd like to point out that the article is not about football but about some strange American sport where the foot isn't even used (or at least not that often,I have no idea to be honest).
      Funny. If I criticized an article because I didn't know what Cricket was, I'd be an ignorant American and modded down.
      • Well yes, but that's because the meaning of the word "cricket" is perfectly unambiguous to everyone. It's not like the sport shares its name with something completely unrelated, like, say, a small nocturnal insect, or a dart game, or a children's magazine, or a ridge structure designed to divert water on a roof, or an early American automobile model.
    • by SL Baur ( 19540 )

      the article is not about football but about some strange American sport
      And the "world cup" is some kind of international jock strap, isn't it?

      How that can be moderated +5 "informative" is beyond me. Hey moderators, pass the crack pipe!
  • While we're on the topic, check out the clip of Brandon Jacobs opening up a can on whup-ass [] in the first play of the game two weeks ago in Green Bay. Note 265 lbs of running-back muscle flattens the tiny little corner-back. :-)
  • Watch Sport Science (Score:3, Interesting)

    by sponga ( 739683 ) on Sunday February 03, 2008 @12:42PM (#22282732)
    There is a show called 'Sport Science' on Fox Sports where they take all these extreme athletes of all types of sports in America like NBA, NFL, NHL, I.R.L., softball, soccer, billards and it goes on. The text article is nice but they provide so much more info on the show and visual demonstrations with great players like Jerry Rice, Ben Roathlisberger

    The MMA one is a really interesting one when you have Bas Rutten making the scientest jaws drop with the amount of pressure they hit a target. One hit I remember broke the 1000lbs of force and they were telling these guys that they are throwing concussion hits.

    Good episodes like...
    Human Flight: Who Are The Highest Flyers in Sports?
    Sudden Impact: Who Hits the Hardest in Sports?
    Reaction Time: Who Reacts the Fastest in Sports?
    Cheap Shots: What does a Cheap Shot feel like in Sports?
    Out of Control: Elements of the Game you can't Control
  • Rugby... (Score:4, Funny)

    by Bazman ( 4849 ) on Sunday February 03, 2008 @12:44PM (#22282748) Journal
    England could do with some of those guys in their rugby team, assuming they don't mind playing without helmets and body armour - oh, and multi-million pound/dollar sponsorship deals...

    So no chance then.

    • LOL while I'll give you that rugby certainly is a rough sport, the contact in football's a little different. I myself have dislocated a shoulder and wrecked an ankle playing, and I know people who have split their fiberglass helmets, broken other people's arms with their facemasks (which are steel, btw), and the like.

      I tire of people assuming because the players are wearing pads, it's kids play. Scrum? Try getting a 1-yard head start and see what the impact difference is like. If that doesn't convince you,
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by pbhj ( 607776 )
        >>> usually weigh around 300-350 lbs [21-25 stone for the Brits in the audience]

        We've been metric since before I was born, I'm 31. I'll let you off though as no-one over here seems to have noticed either.

        So it's 135-160 Kg, thanks.
        • Hmm. The BBC guys still seem mighty quick to announce weight in "stone" on all the programs I've seen. So my guess is they either have a secret agenda or your old system is still a little more commonly used than you'd let on.
          • by pbhj ( 607776 )
            Me >>> I'll let you off though as no-one over here seems to have noticed either.

            Old habits die hard. The government at the time refused to be hardline about it and so we have a continuing roll-out 30+ years later.
        • What age is 31 in metric?
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I cant wait till its over so everyone will shut up about it.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    What channel is it on? BBC1? BBC2?
    • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      BBC2 10:50pm
  • I know there's a bunch of really good commercials showing up on YouTube today, but I didn't know that there was a football game today.
  • by PPH ( 736903 ) on Sunday February 03, 2008 @01:16PM (#22282960)
    I will be conducting a careful study of wave propagation through viscous silicone mediums subject to oscillating vertical acceleration.
  • Gosh. (Score:1, Troll)

    by morari ( 1080535 )
    Even on Slashdot, I can't escape mention of that ridiculous institution that is professional sports.
  • Without the pads? (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    And this [] is what half a tonne of force looks like without the protective gear.
  • by flyneye ( 84093 ) on Sunday February 03, 2008 @02:38PM (#22283606) Homepage
    I personally worked for a paint factory that manufactured the paint that goes on the helmets(Yes,the NFLs helmets made by RYDELL).The problem we were overcoming was the old paint weakened the strength of the helmets causing splits and cracks.Our method of test consisted of 10 ft. of 4inch PVC duct taped to a pillar.At the bottom of the pillar,a box,little bigger than the helmet w/4 inches of foam rubber.The helmet sat in the box and two 10 lb.sledgehammer heads duct taped together were dropped to dent the helmet upon which it was inspected for cracks or splits radiating from the dent.The old paint wouldn't withstand a single hammer head.Ours withstood both in the end.
              Cost of research,less than $50 U.S. Scienterrific,huh?

  • Really, why do you guys play it Sunday evenining? It'd make way more sense to play on Saturdays - then you could all stay up late and get real pissed. Plus, then those of us who live in Europe could join in the fun.

    Heck, after England's second half performance against Wales, I needed something to cheer me up. Superbowl would have been perfect.
  • AS for the rugbyforpansies tag...nice try. It seems like every English rugby player who tries to make it in the NFL usually ends up in the strong safety position. Too small to play linebacker, too slow to play defensive back, and absolutely no individual skills (other than smashing into other humans). Perhaps American Football is rubygforpansies, but funny how many ex-rugbyers are third on the depth charts and playing on kick coverage.

    The best part of my post is that those who apply the rugbyforpansie

    • AS for the rugbyforpansies tag...nice try. It seems like every English rugby player who tries to make it in the NFL usually ends up in the strong safety position. Too small to play linebacker, too slow to play defensive back, and absolutely no individual skills (other than smashing into other humans). Perhaps American Football is rubygforpansies, but funny how many ex-rugbyers are third on the depth charts and playing on kick coverage.

      Forgive my ignorance here, as I know little of American Football, but as I understand it your argument is this: American Football is not rugby for pansies because the only rugby players that play American Football are pansies... I struggle to comprehend the point you are trying to make.

      Note: I shall not take a view on the pansiness of American Football myself as, in my opinion, if you play either sport you are a) not a pansy and b) need your head examined.

      • Witty, but I don't know whether you intentionally missed the point for the sake of it or whether you're actually confused, so I'll bite.

        His point was that rugby fans call football rugby for pussies, but rugby players who actually attempt to play football are quickly relegated to being backups or put at positions that demand very little skill because they're unfit to play the rest. No one said that the only rugby players that play football are pussies, just that rugby players lack the skill, size, or spee
        • Incredibly successful ? They beat the one other country who had entered - France.

          As to the parents point about rugby players making only mediocre American Football players; like duh ! What do you expect they've spent most of their lives playing a totally different code of sport of course they're not going to be as skilled in some of the more specialist positions than players who have spent all their lives simply training for that position. Having said that they do seem to be more successful than the America
    • I don't understand why people compare the two, the types of tackles between Union and American Football are completly diffrent and they have completly diffrent rules. Hence why one has helmets and padding and the other one doesn't.
  • Maybe I'm doing the math wrong, but I've always been led to believe that 1600 pounds is a hell of a lot more than half a ton. In fact, it's 60% more than half.

    Anyone wanna tell me what I'm missing in that summary?
  • by LadyLucky ( 546115 ) on Sunday February 03, 2008 @07:12PM (#22285776) Homepage
    If you haven't seen it, his classic try [] against England in 95.
  • I always thought of American football more as a turn-based strategy than RTS -- after all, there's a break after every play and each team gets to choose their next move before they try it out. Stuff like soccer or hockey feels much more 'RTS' to me with the constant motion back and forth, and being a turn-based fan, perhaps that's the reason I enjoy watching American football more than most other team sports.

"I have not the slightest confidence in 'spiritual manifestations.'" -- Robert G. Ingersoll