The science behind figure skating, the half pipe and other Olympic sports

The National Science Foundation has for years been partnering with NBC Learn, the educational arm of NBC News, to present a series of 10 videos and other materials explaining the science, technology, engineering, design and mathematics behind  Olympic winter sports. The stories in the videos are told by athletes as well as engineers and scientists. Below are some of the winter sports videos, including a tutorial on engineering the half pipe and the physics behind ice figure skating. And you can find others here.

 

Engineering the half pipe: Shaun White: Mechanical engineer Brianno Coller, a professor at Northern Illinois University, explains how engineers design the half pipe so that snowboarder Shaun White can get more air time and allow him to perform tricks.

 

Figure skating physics: Meryl Davis, Gracie Gold, Evan Lysacek, Ashley Wagner, Charlie White: Figure skating has become one of the most popular events at the Winter Olympics. Brad Orr, head of the Physics Department at the University of Michigan, explains that good balance, or stability, is basic to everything a skater does–and that begins with understanding the center of mass.

 

Physics of slopestyle skiing: Nick Goepper: Jordan Gerton, a professor of physics at the University of Utah, describes how Nick Goepper, a 2013 world champion slopestyle skier, follows the laws of physics and rotational motion  in this freestyle skiing event debuting in Sochi, Russia.

 Engineering faster and safer bobsleds: Steve Holcomb, Steve Langton: Michael Scully, of BMW DesignWorks USA, and mechanical engineer Mont Hubbard, professor emeritus at the University of California, Davis, explain the engineering challenges associated with making sleds faster and tracks safer.

 

 

Valerie Strauss covers education and runs The Answer Sheet blog.
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Valerie Strauss | February 18