Physics for sports fans

jungposterChang Kee Jung of Stony Brook University loves sports as much as he loves physics, and combines these interests in his “Physics of Sports” course. He’s built a solid reputation — NBC NYC Channel 4  interviewed him for their 5 pm newscast about Odell Beckham Jr.’s one-handed catch in 2014. In 2015, several sports news organizations knew to seek him out when they needed answers about “Deflate-Gate.” (See ABC’s ‘Deflate-Gate’ Explained With Animated Stick Figures.)

“I started this course back in 2003 to reach out to non-science majors who think physics is too hard. I wanted to teach them conceptually, using examples that are very natural and familiar to them,” said Jung. “This course gives them an introduction to physics without too much math, which in turn gives them a greater appreciation of sports and athletes — it’s a two-way thing.”

Fermilab runs a very popular lecture series for the public each year, and it was only a matter of time before Jung would be tapped to offer the community in Chicago’s western suburbs an evening of sports and science. He spoke in Ramsey Auditorium on September 23.

Jung focused his lecture on four sports, volleyball, baseball, (American) football, and soccer, highlighting similarities between the way the balls used for each sport can bend and travel in paths that can foil opponents.

As a baseball fan, I enjoyed his analysis of the physics that allows a gifted pitcher like Jake Arrieta of the Cubs be to so effective,” said Chris Mossey, audience member and LBNF Project Director. “Applying principles from classical mechanics to fluid dynamics, Chang Kee showed why pitches like curve balls, sliders, sinkers, and four-seam fastballs behave as they do.  I left the auditorium feeling sorry for hitters.”

Links to articles and broadcasts featuring Chang Kee Jung.