NASA's "AstrOlympics" Explains the Science Behind Olympic Events

Monday, 08 August 2016 - 11:55AM
Physics
Science News
Monday, 08 August 2016 - 11:55AM
NASA's "AstrOlympics" Explains the Science Behind Olympic Events
The Olympic Games in Rio are officially underway, and to celebrate, NASA is holding an "Olympics" of their own. Their new project, the Astrolympics, provides explanations for physical concepts by way of the Olympic games—including speed, mass, time, pressure, rotation, and distance—so we can "learn not only about the world around us, but also about the Universe we all live in."



The project will include videos, posters, and web sites explaining these challenging physical concepts in ways that are accessible to the public (and Olympics fans). By connecting sports and astrophysics, NASA will illustrate the connection between micro events on Earth and patterns that rule the whole universe.

Opening quote
The athletes that compete in the Olympics can do amazing things. They run faster, jump higher, and spin quicker than most of us ever will. Many of us are also in awe of what the Universe has to offer. Astronomers have explored the heavens with their telescopes and come up with findings that are so fantastic it can be hard to believe they're real.

What do Olympic athletes and objects in space have in common? The answer is matter in motion, often in extreme examples. Whether it is a human body moving at the fastest speeds possible or the debris from an exploded star blasting through space, the physics of that motion is, in many ways, the same.
Closing quote

Material will continue to be released throughout the Olympic games, but the information presented is already fascinating. The "rotation" section, for example, compares rotation speeds of a washing machine, a gymnast performing a backflip in mid-air, and the movement of the Crab Nebula. Meanwhile, the "speed" section compares the world's fastest sprinter to a typical speed limit on a highway to the movement of supernova remnant Cassiopeia. 

Opening quote
The Olympics are an opportunity to behold the limits of human abilities in athletics. After all, the Olympic motto is Latin for "faster, higher, stronger." AstrOlympics enables us to appreciate the feats of the Olympic athletes and then venture far beyond into the outer reaches of space.
Closing quote

Via NASA

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