The physics of sports
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The Physics of Sports. Fermilab. Tevatron, 4 miles around. Main Injector, 2 miles around. Physics explains things that are very, very large. Physics explains things that are very, very small. Physics explains things that are right in front of us. Newton’s First Law.

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4 miles around

Main Injector,

2 miles around

Newton s first law
Newton’s First Law

  • Objects at rest remain at rest

  • Objects in motion remain in motion


Newton s second law
Newton’s Second Law

F = ma

What forces are important in sports?

The home run swing
The Home Run Swing

  • Ball arrives on 100 downward trajectory

  • Big Mac swings up at 250

  • Ball takes off at 350

    • The optimum home run angle!

Courtesy of A. Nathan, University of Illinois.

Newton s third law
Newton’s Third Law

For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.

Conservation of energy
Conservation of Energy

Potential Energy

Kinetic Energy

Kinetic Energy

Compression Energy

Heat and Sound Energy

Conservation of momentum
Conservation of Momentum

If m1 = m2, then v1 = v2

Equipment features
Equipment features

  • Ball material, size, shape, and texture

  • Properties of the club, bat, racquet, or stick

Air resistance drag
Air Resistance (drag)

F r i c t i o n

Resistance friction
Resistance & Friction

The Power of Spin

Spins in figure skating
Spins in Figure Skating

Reaction time
Reaction Time

Downhill skier speed 80 mph
Downhill skier speed: 80 mph

Reaction Time in Baseball

Courtesy of R. Adair through A. Nathan.

Measure your reaction time
Measure your reaction time…

Compare your reaction time
Compare your reaction time…

Equation used: t = √((2d)/g)

Physical laws explain the world
Physical laws explain the world

  • Newton’s Laws of Motion

  • Conservation of Energy

  • Conservation of Momentum

    These laws help us explain everything

    about sports.

    Physics really is everywhere!

Visit fermilab www fnal gov
Visit Fermilab

  • Buffalo viewing

  • Bicycling

  • Walking

  • Roller blading

  • Canoeing

  • Fishing

Visit fermilab
Visit Fermilab

  • Lederman Science Center

  • Tours

  • Saturday morning physics

  • Ask a Scientist

On-line activities:

The physics of sports1
The Physics of Sports