About This Episode
Strap on your skates, take out your pencils and get ready to spin, jump, and calculate your way through the physics of figure skating. Host Chuck Nice sits down with Olympic Medalist Sasha Cohen, neuroscientist and All-Stars host Dr. Heather Berlin, and resident astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, to discuss all there is to know about the most-watched Olympic sport – recorded live as a part of our StarTalk at BAM: Science is Everywhere show. To break the ice, Sasha explains how she got started in figure skating and Neil reminisces on his high school job as a rink guard. Explore the physics of a jump and spin as Neil and Sasha visually and audibly demonstrate what’s at work. Heather helps us understand the importance of procedural memory, a.k.a. muscle memory, and how self-awareness can be distracting from the “flow state” when figure skating. We also explore what causes dizziness and how figures skaters keep from getting dizzy. Sasha takes us behind-the-scenes of what happened when she landed the quadruple jump and Neil recommends a way for her to pull off a quintuple jump (5 spins in the air) – however, his recommendation might not be exactly legal. All that, plus, Neil takes us down a geek rabbit hole behind the science of ice*: how it forms, how it breaks, and how it reacts underneath figure skaters.
*Note from StarTalk Editors:
For further reading on the complex topic of ice melting under pressure, Dr. Tyson, recommends the following two scholarly articles on the subject, one on the general topic of slippery ice, and the other on the Capt. Robert Falcon Scott expedition to the South Pole, whose diary entry noted,
“The (ice) surface, lately a very good hard one, is coated with a layer of woolly crystals […] (that) cause impossible friction to the runners. God help us, we can’t keep up this pulling, that is certain.”
NOTE: All-Access subscribers can watch or listen to this entire episode commercial-free here: Playing with Science at BAM, with Sasha Cohen & Neil deGrasse Tyson.