Football Physics and the Science of Deflate-gate

One of the cool things about working at Union is that the Communications office gets media requests looking for people to comment on current events, which sometimes get forwarded to me. Yesterday was one of those days, with a request for a scientist to comment on the bizarre sports scandal surrounding the deflated footballs used in the AFC Championship game this past weekend. Which led to me doing an experiment, and writing a short article for The Conversation:

News reports say that 11 of the 12 game balls used by the New England Patriots in their AFC championship game against the Indianapolis Colts were deflated, showing about 2 pounds per square inch (psi) less pressure than the 13 psi required by the rules, so it seems that the most bizarre sports scandal of recent memory is real. But there are still plenty of questions: why would a team deflate footballs? Could there be another explanation? And most importantly, what does physics tell us about all this?

I'll probably extend this tomorrow with a post here containing more math and data and graphs, but I'm pretty happy with the way this came out, so go over there and read the whole thing.

More like this

While all right-thinking people know that the important games are played on Sundays, as God intended, there are some people who insist on watching football on Saturday. Yesterday was a particularly good day for it, with a bunch of highly rated teams losing . While there was, of course, only one…
The low-level cold I've been nursing for a month now finally exploded into the full unpleasantness of my usual winter illness Saturday, or else I would've been more active following up on my Deflategate article and my ideal gas law post. As it was, for most of the day, I could barely keep on top of…
So, as mentioned yesterday, I got an email asking me about the weird scandal involving the Patriots and underinflated footballs, so I wrote a piece for the Conversation on the subject. since a few people had beaten me to citations of the Ideal Gas Law, though, I decided to bring my own particular…
Over at Cosmic Variance, Sean has a nice, concise post about what's wrong with college football. He's responding to a desperately stupid post that ends with this: Let's not ruin college football's fabulous 13 week do-or-die regular season with a playoff! This was posted back in October, so the…