Photo of Neil deGrasse Tyson when he was the captain of his high school wrestling team. ©Tyson Archives.
Photo of Neil deGrasse Tyson when he was the captain of his high school wrestling team. ©Tyson Archives.

Wrestling with Physics, with Neil deGrasse Tyson

© Tyson Archives
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About This Episode

On this episode of Playing with Science, hosts Gary O’Reilly and Chuck Nice sit down with your favorite personal astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson to answer fan-submitted questions on a topic you may not know he’s an expert in: wrestling. That’s right, Neil lends us his physics expertise matched with his experience as a high school and collegiate wrestler to give you everything you need know about the physics of wrestling before you take to the mats.

You’ll learn about the evolution of wrestling mats and why you don’t want to make them too comfortable. Neil breaks down the point system in wrestling. You’ll hear about Greco Roman wrestling and what differentiates it from other wrestling styles. 

Find out the importance of leverage in wrestling and in life. We discuss which law of physics is most important in wrestling. We explore what wrestling would be like on the Moon. We also explore what wrestling would be like in zero gravity. Gary shares his idea for a “cage match” in zero gravity that involves walls on all sides. Neil tells us where he would host a wrestling match if he could host one anywhere in the universe. 

You’ll also discover the most energy efficient wrestling move you can easily learn. Neil tells us his favorite wrestling move. Learn the mechanics and cosmic connection of Neil’s proposed wrestling move “The Double Tidal Lock.” We also try and calculate the average energy output during a wrestling match and the maximum strength of a human muscle. 

Lastly, we discuss the recent rise of women’s wrestling. Neil argues why wrestling should not be on the chopping block as an Olympic sport. Learn how shorter wrestlers can easily defeat taller wrestlers. All that, plus, find out why losing is one of the greatest teachers.

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