Photo for planet soccer showing soccer player’s foot and soccer ball. Credit: XiXinXing/iStock.
Photo for planet soccer showing soccer player’s foot and soccer ball. Credit: XiXinXing/iStock.

Extended Classic: Planet Soccer, with Neil deGrasse Tyson

Credit: XiXinXing/iStock
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Photo for planet soccer showing soccer player’s foot and soccer ball. Credit: XiXinXing/iStock.

This episode is audio-only

About This Episode

This episode is now extended with a conversation featuring Gary O’Reilly and physicist John Eric Goff discussing the science behind the Adidas Telstar 18 – the official match ball of the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

This week, former British footballer Gary O’Reilly shows Chuck Nice around his old stomping grounds, the soccer pitch. Helping him investigate the science and technology that’s transforming the “beautiful game” are former NY Cosmos Assistant Coach and 2x MLS All-Star, Alecko Eskandarian, and astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson. First up, the guys explore how to “Bend it like Beckham” and the aerodynamic impact of the ball’s surface texture and foot shape/sweet spot size on airflow, spin and resistance. You’ll learn why a completely smooth ball, like the Adidas Jabulani used in the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, isn’t spin stabilized, and functions more like a knuckleball in baseball. Find out why the new Adidas Telstar 18, which will be used in the 2018 World Cup in Russia, and which Gary thinks is loaded in favor of strikers, will “look like a whiffle ball in the wind” according to Neil. You’ll also hear how teams have to adapt their playing style to the new balls, and why Gary thinks official balls change every 4 years. Uncover the future of high-tech jerseys that may include built in GPS, heart rate monitors, and even cameras incorporated into fiber-optic threads. Finally, the discussion turns to the use of video replay to remove human error from the game. (Adult Language)

NOTE: All-Access subscribers can listen to this entire episode commercial-free here: Extended Classic: Planet Soccer, with Neil deGrasse Tyson.

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