An eight ball rack about to be broken
An eight ball rack about to be broken

Pool Table Physics with Dr. Dave Alciatore

Paul Goyette, CC BY-SA 2.0 , via Wikimedia Commons
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About This Episode

What was Coriolis, of the famous Coriolis Effect, doing at the pool table? On this episode, Neil deGrasse Tyson and co-hosts Gary O’Reilly and Chuck Nice explore the science behind billiards and pool trick shots with billiard physicist Dr. Dave Alciatore.

Discover the history of billiards as we find the science hidden in this parlor sport. How did this game of the French aristocrats become what it is today? Did Gaspard-Gustave de Coriolis play pool? Learn about the Coriolis Effect and why the famous scientist was so interested in pool. Can you make a machine to play the perfect billiard game? We break down parabolic paths: does it work the same when the plane is horizontal? We discuss differential equations and how to get the perfect Massé shot to go around your opponent’s ball. 

How do you get a ball to jump legally? Is scooping allowed? Find out how to hit the ball with a pool cue to achieve different results. How does friction, gravity, and spin factor in? Does chalking the end of your cue really help you shoot? How have billiard sets changed in their materials over the years? We break down what Chuck’s record is around the pool table. Will this lesson help him catch a break? English, Squirt, Throw. Find out what all this means and more as we take a deep dive into billiards! 

Thanks to our Patrons Dylan Elliot, Cody Swayze, Panda Man, Niklas Ekberg, Isaac Lambert, Fortune’s Flavor, and Joshua Grose for supporting us this week.

NOTE: StarTalk+ Patrons can watch or listen to this entire episode commercial-free.

In This Episode

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