About This Episode
This week on Playing with Science, Neil deGrasse Tyson joins hosts Gary O’Reilly and Chuck Nice to answer fan submitted questions about the physics of basketball, Michael Jordan, and the impact of race on athletic performance. Join us as we explore the best place in our solar system for “super cool” dunks, the effect of gravity on hang time, and how MJ and others could “freestyle” on the Moon or Mars. Find out whether a basketball would still bounce in space, what happens to rubber in the presence of extreme cold, and what Neil used to do with balls as a kid. Delve into the physics of elastic and inelastic collisions, the deformation of balls, and the effect of different playing surfaces like concrete, blacktop or hardwood on the game. Chuck, Gary and Neil also discuss how 5’7” Spud Webb could win an NBA Slam Dunk Title, and what the last two minutes of a basketball game have to do with Einstein and time dilation. Discover why neither Chuck nor Neil are fans of the movie Space Jam, and compare and contrast the acting abilities of Michael Jordan and Shaquille O’Neill. Finally, Neil addresses fast twitch and slow twitch muscles, and the persistent “urge for people to assert that athletic talent manifested in black people is genetic, but athletic talent manifested in white people is through hard earned work.” (Warning: Adult Language.)
NOTE: All-Access subscribers can watch or listen to this entire episode commercial-free here: Space Jam: Basketball Cosmic Queries, with Neil deGrasse Tyson.