UNC professors get psyched about football and physics

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Members of the Loveland community learned about physics and got excited for the Superbowl during a talk by University of Northern Colorado professors at a local brewery on Feb. 2.

Charles Kuehn, an assistant professor of astronomy, and Robert Walch, a professor of physics, spent the afternoon at Loveland Aleworks using science to demonstrate how physics impact football at a talk called “Physics and Foam.”

Throughout the talk, participants answered trivia questions about physics and football. Demonstrations included punching foam to show how helmets prevent concussions and freezing a football to show how temperature probably did not influence the deflation of footballs in the New England controversy commonly known as “Deflategate.”

People of every age packed the brewery. Anna Hutchison, a junior at the University of Northern Colorado, attended the event.

“I thought it was awesome that they brought science to a brewery and tied it into popular culture,” Hutchinson said. “Science is in everything and it’s cool that we can have people experience science in a fun way.”

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Members of the public also learned about how inflating footballs in Colorado is different than at sea level; air pressure is lower at high altitudes so it takes less air to properly inflate one.

“We talked a little bit about some of the factors that involve throwing a football and kicking a football,” Walch said. “And some of the physics behind that like angular momentum and air pressure.”

Kuehn says he puts on these events every two to three months. According to Kuehn, science talks at bars and pubs are popular around the world.

The first talk he gave at Loveland Aleworks was before the total solar eclipse in the summer of 2017. This event turned out to be hugely popular, with the crowd spilling out of the small brewery onto the sidewalk outside. Because of its popularity, Kuehn has continued to engage the community with the “fun” parts of science.

“I love doing them because it’s just different,” Kuehn said. “It’s not like class, no one has to take a test at the end. There’s no writing out equations. Just the fun stuff.”

Also see this story in this week’s episode of Bear News.

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