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Olympic Physics

by Eva Amsen

The Winter Olympics in Turin are in full force at the moment. Gravitational force, to be more precise. But also friction, angular momentum, and acceleration. Several winter sports events are quite literally text book examples of principles of physics. Many physics students have learned about the conservation of angular momentum from figure skating spins. “Why is ice slippery?” is a more complicated issue, but applies to both puck and skaters in ice hockey and to the stone in curling.

In other sports at the winter Olympics, speed matters and sport scientists are constantly looking for ways to make athletes just a tiny bit faster. For speed skating, the clap skate were first used at the 1998 winter Olympics, and proved faster than regular speed skates.
Scientists in a lab in Norway is working on the optimal ski jump using a dummy, to study the physics of ski jumping. Meanwhile, a school in Peru wants to introduce bobsledding into their physics program. Sounds like fun!

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1 comment

pim February 22, 2006 - 1:10 PM

In other news, the car program Top Gear recently performed ski jumping with a rocket-powered Mini!

There’s physics involved, so I think I can mention it here 😉

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