David Kirkpatrick

July 11, 2010

Congrats Spain

Filed under: Sports — Tags: , , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 4:06 pm

Yet another one-nil win for Spain, this time over the Netherlands for the 2010 World Cup. A very chippy final, but also full of exciting play. All the cards were fitting for a Cup where officiating was almost as big of story over the month as the actual play on the pitch.

July 9, 2010

World Cup 2010 prediction — here comes the science

Filed under: Science, Sports — Tags: , , , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 3:43 pm

(drumroll …)

And sophisticated analysis of Netherlands’ and Spain’s tactics predict a Spanish win this Sunday at Soccer City Stadium.

From the link:

Mathematicians and football supporters Dr Javier López Peña and Dr Hugo Touchette from Queen Mary, University of London have collected ball passing data from all of the FIFA  games and analysed it to reveal the nations’ different styles of play.

Using the mathematical technique called Graph Theory, they have revealed the gaping holes in England’s tactics against Germany game and made predictions about the Netherlands-Spain final that could rival the psychic octopus.

For each national side, Drs López Peña and Touchette have drawn up a ‘network’ of passes between players throughout the tournament and analysed how these networks compare between teams. Dr Touchette explains: “Each player in the network is given a score called centrality which measures how vital they are to the network. The higher the centrality score, the bigger the impact if that player wasn’t there. This method is most commonly used to make  more robust, but it can also be used to plan football strategy.”

July 1, 2010

Soccer — here comes the science

Filed under: Science, Sports — Tags: , , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 11:55 pm

I’ve already done a blog post on scientific research behind this year’s World Cup ball, the Jabulani — now here’s news on a Physics Today article on the science behind soccer. (Hint: hit the link in the release for the article.)

The release:

Study explains science of soccer

College Park, MD (July 1, 2010) — With the attention of sports fans worldwide focused on South Africa and the 2010 FIFA World Cup, U.S. scientist John Eric Goff has made the aerodynamics of the soccer ball a focus of his research.

In an article appearing in the magazine Physics Today this month, Goff examines the science of soccer and explains how the world’s greatest players are able to make a soccer ball do things that would seem to defy the forces of nature.

Goff’s article looks at the ball’s changing design and how its surface roughness and asymmetric air forces contribute to its path once it leaves a player’s foot. His analysis leads to an understanding of how reduced air density in games played at higher altitudes — like those in South Africa — can contribute to some of the jaw-dropping ball trajectories already seen in some of this year’s matches.

“The ball is moving a little faster than what some of the players are used to,” says Goff, who is a professor of physics at Lynchburg College in Virginia and an expert in sports science.

For Goff, soccer is a sport that offers more than non-stop action — it is a living laboratory where physics equations are continuously expressed. On the fields of worldwide competition, the balls maneuver according to complicated formulae, he says, but these can be explained in terms the average viewer can easily understand. And the outcomes of miraculous plays can be explained simply in terms of the underlying physics.

Goff also is the author of the recently published book, “Gold Medal Physics: The Science of Sports,” which uncovers the mechanisms behind some of the greatest moments in sports history, including:

  • How did Cal beat Stanford in the last seconds with five lateral passes as the Stanford marching band was coming on to the field?
  • How did Doug Flutie complete his “Hail Mary” touchdown pass that enabled Boston College to beat Miami?
  • How did Lance Armstrong cycle to a world-beating seven Tour de France victories?
  • How did Olympic greats Bob Beamon (long jump), Greg Louganis (diving) and Katarina Witt (figure skating) achieve their record-setting Olympic gold?

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The article “Power and spin in the beautiful game” appears in the July, 2010 issue of Physics Today and is available at http://www.physicstoday.org/beautiful_game.html

ABOUT PHYSICS TODAY

Published by the American Institute of Physics, Physics Today is the most influential and closely followed physics magazine in the world, informing readers about science and its place in the world with authoritative features, news coverage and analysis, and fresh perspectives on technological advances and ground-breaking research. Physics Today Online (www.physicstoday.org) serves as the magazine’s home on the Internet, with all of its content available to subscribers and continually building a valuable online archive.

ABOUT AIP

The American Institute of Physics is a federation of 10 physical science societies representing more than 135,000 scientists, engineers, and educators and is one of the world’s largest publishers of scientific information in the physical sciences. Offering partnership solutions for scientific societies and for similar organizations in science and engineering, AIP is a leader in the field of electronic publishing of scholarly journals. AIP publishes 12 journals (some of which are the most highly cited in their respective fields), two magazines, including its flagship publication Physics Today; and the AIP Conference Proceedings series. Its online publishing platform Scitation hosts nearly two million articles from more than 185 scholarly journals and other publications of 28 learned society publishers.

June 28, 2010

The World Cup — tradition v. technology

Filed under: Sports — Tags: , , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 4:44 pm

I’m not sure there’s any decent answer here, but the traditions of soccer simply don’t jibe with the realities of modern technology. Pesky stuff like televisions 40 inches and up in most homes, broadcasts to those large TVs in high definition and enough cameras placed around the pitch to capture every moment. Moments like clear goals that are disallowed. Moments like getting to see a diver fall down in writhing agony with no person or object within 15 feet of them. This worked when most everyone, including the one official on the pitch, was following the ball. Modern broadcasts put cameras on all sorts of action away from the ball and major officiating mistakes make the sport look, well, a bit stupid.

And don’t even get me started on hypocrisy of defending the traditions of the sport when actively promoting the tournament as being broadcast in 3D. As a ruling body FIFA has to either put up with ridiculous diving and a plethora of bad calls, or embrace modern technology and what it can do to make the game better. Because those two options are mutually exclusive.

So to get back to my original conjecture, I’m not sure there is a decent answer to tradition versus technology in soccer, but I am pretty sure this is not a workable solution.

From the link:

FIFA will censor World Cup match action being shown on giant screens inside the stadium after replays of Argentina’s disputed first goal against Mexico fueled arguments on the pitch.

June 26, 2010

Ghana-2, USA-1

Filed under: Sports — Tags: , , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 4:11 pm

The extra thirty minutes exemplified the best and worst of international soccer. The Ghanan goal was a thing of beauty, the subsequent outrageous stalling and diving — and even worse officiating — are the final taste many new potential American fans of the sport are going to take away from an otherwise very good World Cup for the American side. And even though I’d preferred to see USA go on, I think it’s a good thing an African country continues in the first Cup held on the continent.

(And I’m probably more pleased than I ought to be that both France and Italy are already getting home cooking.)

June 14, 2010

The vuvuzela lives on

Filed under: et.al. — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 2:34 pm

At least for now.

From the link:

The loud trumpets called vuvuzelas will continue to be allowed for the time being at the World Cup, despite complaints from some international broadcasters, players and fans, the tournament’s organizing committee said Monday.

The World Cup on the web

Filed under: Media, Sports, Technology — Tags: , , , , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 8:20 am

Here’s a CIO.com guide to four online World Cup fixes.

From the link:

1. Live Streaming

ESPN3.com is streaming 54 World Cup matches for free. Head to their website and click “Watch Now” for the current match, where you can also view up-to-date stats.

Univision will also be streaming matches online for free (but this site is in Spanish). To watch, click “Ver partido en vivo” from the orange box in the top right corner.

June 13, 2010

World Cup fans of Spain …

Filed under: Science, Sports — Tags: , , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 12:27 pm

don’t start celebrating just yet.

From the link:

The World Cup offers fans of the globe’s most popular sport the chance to thrill and agonize over the ups and downs of their nations’ teams. For scientists, whether or not they are fans, it’s another chance to collect data and test hypotheses about how close the final match results reflected the relative skill and performance of the two teams — and if they used the best possible winning strategies.

When the dust clears after the  concludes next month, it’s likely that the champion will not be the team that played the best, said Gerald Skinner, an astrophysicist at the University of Maryland in College Park.

Following up on a lunchroom discussion with his avid fan tablemates, Skinner, who admits not being a great sports enthusiast, published a research paper in 2009 that worked out the details of his claim using statistical techniques familiar to astronomers. The findings backed up his posturing.

“It’s not entirely a , but the result of an individual football match has got a very large element of chance and  in it,” said Skinner.

June 12, 2010

USA-1, England-1

Solid first effort from the US side and a bit lucky. The story of the game of course is Clint Dempsey’s very soft goal against Robert Green. Fleet Street is going to have a field day with Green, and if England doesn’t make it out of the round robin somehow his life in the UK will never recover.

June 9, 2010

The 2010 World Cup ball — here comes the science

Filed under: et.al., Science, Sports — Tags: , , , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 2:03 am

I’m getting pretty excited about this year’s World Cup. It’s a fun tournament and a truly international sporting event. There’s already been some controversy over this year’s ball, so how did it perform in the lab? Here’s research from the University of Adelaide.

The release:

Will the new World Cup soccer ball bend?

Physics plays a role in on-ground action

Physics experts at the University of Adelaide believe the new ball created for the 2010 World Cup, called the Jabulani, will play “harder and faster”, bending more unpredictably than its predecessor.

But why? And what will it mean for the game?

“The Jabulani is textured with small ridges and ‘aero grooves’ and represents a radical departure from the ultra-smooth Teamgeist ball, which was used in the last World Cup,” says Professor Derek Leinweber, Head of the School of Chemistry & Physics at the University of Adelaide, who has previously written about and lectured on the aerodynamics of cricket balls, golf balls and the 2006 World Cup soccer ball, the Teamgeist.

Along with student Adrian Kiratidis, who is studying for his Master of Philosophy (MPhil) in Physics, Professor Leinweber has been reviewing the physics behind soccer balls and what that means for the Jabulani. Adrian is also a soccer enthusiast.

“While the governing body FIFA has strict regulations on the size and weight of the balls, they have no regulations about the outside surface of the balls,” Professor Leinweber says.

“The Teamgeist was a big departure at the last World Cup. Because it was very smooth – much smoother than a regular soccer ball – it had a tendency to bend more than the conventional ball and drop more suddenly at the end of its trajectory.

“By comparison, the aerodynamic ridges on the Jabulani are likely to create enough turbulence around the ball to sustain its flight longer, and be a faster, harder ball in play.

“The Jabulani is expected to ‘bend’ more for the players than any ball previously encountered. Players are also discovering new opportunities to move the ball in erratic ways, alarming the world’s best goalkeepers. By the time the ball reaches the goalkeeper, the Jabulani will have swerved and dipped, arriving with more power and energy than the Teamgeist.”

University of Adelaide students have also put the new World Cup soccer ball to the test on the soccer field. Based on Professor Leinweber’s theories, they’ve attempted to “bend” the Jabulani and have also kicked the Teamgeist and a regular soccer ball for comparison.

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