Pigskin Science 

Learn this physics behind the gridiron at the Science Museum.

Yes, I know footballs are made of cow skin. But did you know that while you’re at Redskins training camp, watching gargantuan guys compete, that you can also sharpen your physics skills? The Science Museum of Virginia is capitalizing on the nearby football furor with an outdoor exhibit of drills that explain just why that tight spiral is more accurate (gyro stability) and how Newton’s laws of motions relate to that field-goal kick. It lasts through Aug. 16 and daily hours vary.

David Ollie, live science catalyst with the museum, says the exhibit was inspired by the website NBC Learn, which worked with the National Football League and National Science Foundation to create educational videos.

“Coaches yell, ‘Stay low!’” he says. “When you want to move somebody, the physics is about the lever, the distance you can drive up to that person’s center of mass to get more torque and spin,” he says. “In my opinion the Dallas Cowboys players aren’t that good. Their players aren’t that bright and make mistakes. It’s the difference between winning and losing.”

Spoken like a good Redskin neighbor. Oh, and if the math stuff hurts too much, there are always the shiny Vince Lombardi Super Bowl trophies on display inside starting July 30.


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