Photo of skeleton racer Amy Williams at the 2010 Winter Olympics. Photo Credit: jonwick04 (https://www.flickr.com/photos/jonwick/4388363999/) [CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Photo of skeleton racer Amy Williams at the 2010 Winter Olympics. Photo Credit: jonwick04 (https://www.flickr.com/photos/jonwick/4388363999/) [CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Ask a Sports Engineer, with David James

Skeleton racer Amy Williams at the 2010 Winter Olympics. Photo Credit: jonwick04 (https://www.flickr.com/photos/jonwick/4388363999/) [CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

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About This Episode

On this episode of Playing with Science, hosts Chuck Nice and Gary O’Reilly investigate the intersection of sports, technology, and engineering with someone at the epicenter of it all – Professor David James. David is the Director of The Center for Sports Engineering Research at Sheffield Hallam University and has been influential in many areas of the sporting world. Find out some of the cutting edge sports technology David has developed, including the controversial skin suit worn by Olympic gold-medal-winning skeleton racer Amy Williams, and his involvement in developing goal-line technology for FIFA. Besides enhancing sports, we discuss whether technology could end up creating separate tiers within specific sports if access to technological advances isn’t universal. We examine whether sophistication of measurements will ever lead to completely replacing referees and how the weight of a particular call in a match can impact entire cities. Gary gives Chuck a lesson about the relegation system used in the English football leagues. Explore the concussion conversation taking place in American football, soccer, and rugby. Learn the three things required to make a good athlete a world champion. Discover how “linear” sports can be predicted to very precise results. Investigate the benefits and downsides of wearable technology in sports, and ponder what changes can be made to the human design in order to enhance athletic ability. You’ll find out how much, if at all, the shape and curvature of a snowboard effects the efficiency or travel down a hill. You’ll also learn about auxetic foams – materials which, when stretched, become thicker instead of thinner. All that, plus, we explore transhumanism, whether athletes will someday each a biological limit of performance, and if biomechanical advantages, like chip implants, will ever be used in sports.  

NOTE: All-Access subscribers can watch or listen to this entire episode commercial-free here: Ask a Sports Engineer, with David James.

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