Photo of bowler bowling by Xiaphias [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons.
Photo of bowler bowling by Xiaphias [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons.

Cosmic Queries: Sports Physics Trivia, with Charles Liu

Photo Credit: Xiaphias [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons.
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About This Episode

If you’ve got a burning sports science question about football, baseball, cricket, rugby, curling and more, we’ve got you covered. On this episode of Playing with Science, hosts Chuck Nice and Gary O’Reilly sit down with astrophysicist and StarTalk All-Stars host Charles Liu to answer fan-submitted Cosmic Queries on sports physics. You’ll hear how the tug the moon has on the Earth impacts surfing around the world, and what the waves would look like if we lived in a double-moon system. You’ll find out what would happen if a football were kicked on the surface of the Moon. Would it continue out into space forever? Would it come back down? Can you add curve? Join us as we ponder what it would take for a kick to leave the atmosphere of Pluto, how opponents would play against a person who could kick with the power like that needed to escape the atmosphere of the Earth (Hint, not a lot of defense would be played.) You’ll learn how long it would take Usain Bolt to run around the Earth. Explore whether humans could make a sonic boom if they ran fast enough, sparking a conversation about The Flash. Investigate the complicated physics that go into making a legal rugby throw which involves running forwards and throwing backwards. You’ll learn why curling rocks curl, and Charles gives us his two favorite reasons to watch curling, and demonstrates one of them. Charles also tells us why spinning a baseball makes it curve. Gary and Charles school Chuck about the game of cricket and Charles explains the “reverse swing.” We also debate which ball is better for your bowling game: a light ball you can throw harder with less accuracy, or, a heavy ball with more mass but slower speed. We discuss how football would be played on the Mars, and Charles gives us a lesson on one of the most famous punts in college football history. And for you disk sports fans out there, Charles unlocks the secrets to making a perfect Frisbee throw. Lastly, a fan asks Chuck how heavy of a kettle bell he can swing and the answer may surprise you.  

NOTE: All-Access subscribers can watch or listen to this entire episode commercial-free here: Cosmic Queries: Sports Physics Trivia, with Charles Liu.

In This Episode

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