Trees play a large role in the sporting world, impacting everything from the equipment used in golf and baseball to the courts played on in basketball. Different woods affect the game differently, and it can all be explained with materials science.
Articles by Nalini Narkani.
It is common knowledge that metal baseball bats perform better in competition than wooden bats. The question is…why? There are several factors that explain why metal and wooden bats have such a disparity in performance, and it all comes down to materials science.
Learn more about the differences between wood vs. aluminum bats.
Articles by Kenny Morley.
Sports, such as tennis and golf, require athletes to be versatile on several different types of playing surface. These different course and court textures developed because of regional climate and resources available to the builders at the time. Depending on which course you play on, the physics of the playing surface impact your own potential performance.
Learn the basics of different playing surfaces.
Articles by Kenny Morley.
Tennis is played internationally. Depending on what nation hosts a tennis tournament, players may find themselves competing on anything from grass (Wimbledon) to clay (Australia) to rubber coated concrete with acrylic paint (U.S.). Other variables within the sport include ball types and rackets.
Different court surfaces, balls, and rackets impact the speed of the game. One way to address the issue of speed is to combine a faster court with a slower ball, or a slower court with a faster ball, to level out the pace. Additionally, scientists continue to study the composition of rackets, shoes, balls, and court material to find solutions to these and other ongoing issues in the sport.
Learn the basics of how physics affects the speed of play or read the more technical explanation.
Articles by Lindsay Sanford.
When an athletes stands on the podium to receive their Olympic Medal, they’ve worked long and hard to get to that place. The creation of the medal hanging around their neck also goes through an arduous process, but instead of blood, sweat, and tears, this journey is made with chemistry.
Learn more about the basic chemistry behind Olympic medals.
Articles by Kenny Morly.
The composition of golf balls has evolved through the years. Two-layered balls, which are inexpensive and popular, have come a long way. Polymers combined with natural compounds from rubber have been used to create golf balls that have good distance, high abrasion resistance, and optimal firmness. Scientists are beginning to research ways to prolong the life of balls after they are exposed to moisture.
Articles by Jessica Egan.
In football, players use gloves as a means to help control the ball, particularly when making catches. In order to develop better gloves, an understanding of how materials actually adhere (stick) to each other is required. Scientists are constantly searching for new and innovative ideas for adhesive substances. Often, new substances are modeled after examples found in nature. In 2008, a group of scientists developed an adhesive material modeled after the foot pads of the gecko.
Read about the basics of adhesion in geckos and gloves or learn the more technical engineering explanation.
Articles by Bret Van Ausdall.
Cycling has undergone immense changes since its early days. As science has opened our understanding of aerodynamics, it has driven changes in bicycle composition and design, the clothing worn by the cyclist, and even the positioning of the rider on the bicycle.
These three factors directly correlate to the amount of drag experienced by the cyclist. In fact, researcher L. Brownlie reported that some styles of baggy clothes cost cyclists 1.17% of their finishing time in a 100-meter race. Serious cyclists utilize this knowledge by dressing in sleek, close-fitting clothing to optimize their aerodynamics.
How much of a role do aerodynamics play? Learn the basics or read the more technical explanation.
Articles by Cristian Clavijo.