Hockey: Fan Questions and More

Chuck Nice, Gary O'Reilly and Neil deGrasse Tyson listen as Colin Wilson calls into the Playing with Science studio. Credit: Ben Ratner.

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About This Episode

Welcome back to Season 2 of Playing with Science. In our season premiere, Gary O’Reilly and Chuck Nice follow up on our popular Hockey: Physics on Ice episodes by tackling fan questions with returning guest physicist (and hockey goalie) Prof. Alain Haché. Join us as we explore what factors determine the speed of the puck, and the role player’s muscles and techniques play in the transfer of force and momentum. You’ll learn why “freezing the puck” reduces bounce but doesn’t have much of an impact on speed, and whether the law of conservation of energy means a spinning puck will move faster or slower than one that’s not spinning. Discover the effect ice temperature has on skating and the coefficient of friction, what causes “fast or slow” ice, and how “snow on the ice” influences play. You’ll also hear why it only seems like a puck travels faster when it’s closer to the ice, and why the modern plexiglass in arenas lets a player crash through but deflects a puck. Find out why hockey skate blades are curved, but speed skater blades are flat, and how frequently pros change their blades. But that’s not all there is to our Season 2 premiere. In our last segment, Neil deGrasse Tyson joins Chuck and Gary when NHL Nashville Predators Left Wing Colin Wilson calls in to provide us with the player’s perspective. Colin, a third-generation NHL pro, discusses set plays vs. instinct and innovation, and how time slows down when you’re “in the zone.” Plus, Neil breaks down the physics of ice, water, and skating, and Colin talks about how innovations in technology, equipment, training and recovery are leading to a much faster game on the ice. (Warning: Adult Language.)

NOTE: All-Access subscribers can watch or listen to this entire episode commercial-free here: Hockey: Fan Questions and More

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