Deservedly or not, jocks have a reputation for being less cerebral than beaker jockeys and bookworms. But when it comes to American football, brain damage can be all in a day’s work. On The Pump Handle, Liz Borkowski highlights a recent article by Ben McGrath in the New Yorker, addressing “the effects of repeated brain trauma, which football players often experience during games and practice alike.” Even if a player walks off the field, repeated brain-rattlings can lead to dementia and other long-term health problems. But thanks to journalists like Ben, the NFL is starting to pay attention to the impact of concussions. And on Dean’s Corner, Jeffrey Toney takes a look at 417 hits to the head of an actual football player, modelled in 3-D by National Geographic.
Equations can hurt, although not as much as wiping out on the downhill or faceplanting in the halfpipe. On Dot Physics, Rhett Alain explains the amazing angles at which Apolo Ohno leans around the short track, writing “a skater wouldn’t have to lean at all if the skater was stopped. As the angle gets smaller (approaching zero), the skater would have to be going faster and faster.” On Built On Facts, Matt Springer investigates the somewhat more subdued sport of curling, where men with brooms lead forty pound stones to their targets. Crunching numbers, Matt concludes that “granite on vigorously swept ice” produces less friction than “teflon on teflon.” And back on Dot Physics, Rhett draws up some colorful diagrams of ski jumps, explaining that although you wouldn’t want to jump off an eleven-meter building, “you can make it survivable if you increase the time over which the change in velocity takes place.” In other words, those athletes can be thankful they’re landing on a sloped surface.
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