February 14, 2017 9:29 pm

Wednesday, Neil Tyson and Lance Armstrong Are “Playing with Science” in Our Tour de France Show

For those of you who have been asking for Playing with Science to tackle a subject other than American football, strap on your bicycle helmet, tuck in your pants legs, and get ready to go for a ride through the world of science. Because on this week’s new episode of Playing with Science, hosts Gary O’Reilly and Chuck Nice delve into the physics of the world’s most famous, most grueling cycling event: The Tour de France.

Tour de France 2016 - 24/07/2016 - Etape 21 - Chantilly / Paris Champs-Elysées (113 km) - FROOME Christopher (TEAM SKY) - Dans le peloton © ASO/A.Broadway

Tour de France 2016 – 24/07/2016 – Etape 21 – Chantilly / Paris Champs-Elysées (113 km) – FROOME Christopher (TEAM SKY) – Dans le peloton © ASO/A.Broadway

To really get inside the race, they’ve got two expert guests. The first is physicist John Eric Goff, who was our guest scientist in our episode about Odell Beckham Jr.’s one-handed grab, The Science of the Catch. He’s a major cycling fan who actually models the outcomes of each and every Tour de France, and he’s written the book about physics in sports, Gold Medal Physics: The Science of Sports.

Our other guest is a little more famous, or infamous, depending on your point of view.

It’s none other than the 7-time winner of the Tour de France, legendary cyclist Lance Armstrong.

Now before you ask whether we plan on asking him about doping, we’re actually planning an entire Playing with Science episode to look at the science and history of doping that will get into the issues in detail. We’re also planning an episode about the technology of cycling, and we’re planning on interviews with Lance in each of those episodes.

But tomorrow night’s episode is focused on the physics of the Tour de France, and there are few people on the planet who know more about that than Lance Armstrong.

Speaking of planets, the “correspondent” interviewing Lance is also familiar to you. It’s our own StarTalk host, astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson.

Wednesday’s episode is suffused with science, from aerodynamics and Newton’s Laws, to how drafting works to reduce energy output. You’ll learn about air flow and air resistance, or skin friction, drag reduction, and turbulence. Gary, Chuck, and their guests take us through team strategy, nutrition, power-to-weight ratios, the dangers of fan participation during the Tour, and even a little bit of radical cycling technology.

All that, plus you’ll hear why no matter how well you do in the flats, it’s the mountains that determine the winners in the Tour de France.

Join us Wednesday, February 15 at 7pm EST right here on our website, as well as our new Playing with Science channels on iTunes Podcasts, Google Play Music, SoundCloud, Stitcher, and TuneIn. And if you’re an All-Access subscriber, you can watch or listen to this episode ad-free at 7pm, too.

That’s it for now. Keep Looking Up!
– Jeffrey Simons