Category: science

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Curling is a deceptively engrossing sport with…

Curling is a deceptively engrossing sport with some unique physics among Winter Olympic events. Athletes slide 19kg granite stones at a target 28 meters away. Along the way, teammates sweep the pebbled ice with brooms, melting it with frictional heating to help the stone slide further. The underside of the stones is concave, so they only touch the ice along a narrow ring. Researchers think roughness in the leading edge of the sliding stone cuts into the ice, leaving scratches that the trailing edge tries to follow. This is what causes the stone’s trajectory to curl. By melting the ice, sweeping also prevents curling, so competitors must know exactly when and how much to sweep. Ice conditions shift throughout a match, and the best players can read the ice to keep their stones where they want them. (Image credit: AP; W. Zhao/GettyImages)

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Cross-country skiing, also known as Nordic ski…

Cross-country skiing, also known as Nordic skiing, is a part of many longstanding disciplines in the Winter Games. Unlike downhill skiing, cross-country events typically involve mass starts, which allow athletes to interact, using one another for pacing and tactics. Drafting can be a valuable method to save energy and reduce drag. A following skier sees a 25% drag reduction while drafting; the lead skier gets about a 3% reduction in drag compared to skiing solo. Competitors usually wear tight-fitting suits to minimize drag, but unlike speedskating, for example, cross-country skiers don’t get much benefit from roughened surfaces and impermeable fabrics. Typical race speeds are 4 – 9 m/s, and most of these high-tech fabrics don’t provide tangible benefits until higher speeds. (Image credit: Reuters/S. Karpukhin, US Biathlon, GettyImages/Q. Rooney)

Legends change the world they don’t need prize…

Legends change the world they don’t need prizes…

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