‘Physics of Football’ explained

More than a hundred students and faculty members showed up Friday afternoon for a special lecture called “Physics of Football” at Cal State Fullerton.

This one-hour lecture was given by Physicist Tim Gay, known for his one-minute stadium lectures before thousands of University of Nebraska football fans, and shared his brand of science — the correlation between physics and football.

As a physics professor at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and former Cal Tech football player, Gay sees not only the game, but the science in action.

Not only students and faculty from the Physics Department show interest in the event, but also the Mathematics Department as well as local schools.

Fourth and fifth grade children had fun at the event while their parents also attended the lecture.

Though this was not an official field trip, it would help the kids build interest in becoming a future physicist, said Jessica Rutan, the president of Education Alumni Chapter in CSUF, who joined the session with her 10-year-old son.

“He is a phenomenon,” said Jim Feagin, chair of the Department of Physics. “Even though this is not exactly what I’m teaching in my class, all the principals are the same, since physics can apply to everything.”

Through a lot of interesting demonstrations and couple short videos, Gay made physics simple to understand and fun to learn — a nail and a hammer were used to explain how hard-shell helmets significantly reduce the pressure the victim’s head feels; while a book and a piece of paper were used to illustrate how a player could take advantage of air drag force during games.

Gay used football to make physics easier to understand and of course, anyone who attended the lecture will view a football game in a totally different way in the future.

“My reason for doing all this is trying to get kids, and maybe some adults, interested in physics and show them that physics can be interesting and also relevant to something you wouldn’t normally associated with, like football,” Gay said. “My real target audience is middle school and high school kids, get them interested in physics and apply it to something they know about.”

Gay’s book “Football Physics” is essentially aimed at high school players, because he thinks they are more willing to consider different aspects of a football game.

According to Gay, not everyone appreciates the idea of physics football.

“Some fans, they just really don’t care,” Gay said. “There’s another group of fans and coaches, believe it or not, (who are) angered by the idea of physics football”

However, while some think Gay destroyed the beauty of the football game by physics, more and more coaches and players are being supportive to Gay’s idea.

“There’s a great football player Joe Montana, the famous 49ers quarterback, once said: ‘Stop thinking, start losing’, I think that’s a bright idea,” Gay said.

During one of Gay’s demonstration, he used a helmet from Titan Football team. CSUF has not had a football program since 1992 because of the budget cuts and lack of fan support. A lot of students and community members think it’s the time to take another look at it. A movement called “Bring Back Titan Football” is now in motion and the website BringBackTitanFootball.com is expressing the demands.

“I’m with all the students on this, there must be some great kids in Orange County that want to play for Titan Football Team” Gay said. “A good football program will help recruiting the students and make money for the university.”

About Nikki Mao