Category Archives: Miscellany

Thermodynamics of Football in the Gazette

The Schenectady Gazette ran a piece about my experiment with putting footballs in the freezer, in the wake of the “Deflategate” scandal:

Chad Orzel sees science all around him, whether he’s teaching it in a classroom, playing pickup basketball at Union College’s Memorial Fieldhouse or kicking back to watch the National Football League.

Being an associate professor of physics and chairman of the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Union explains some of the fascination.

“I do believe the scientific process is used in all the things we do,” he said Thursday. “And there few things as ruthlessly scientific as big sports.”

That’s why he is so puzzled by Deflategate — science should have said there was little to gain and a lot to lose.

More on the experiment at The Conversation and my own blog.

Thermodynamics of Football at The Conversation

I wrote a short piece on the “Deflategate” controversy for the US edition of The Conversation, and whether physics could explain the underinflated footballs used by the New England Patriots:

News reports say that 11 of the 12 game balls used by the New England Patriots in their AFC championship game against the Indianapolis Colts were deflated, showing about 2 pounds per square inch (psi) less pressure than the 13 psi required by the rules, so it seems that the most bizarre sports scandal of recent memory is real. But there are still plenty of questions: why would a team deflate footballs? Could there be another explanation? And most importantly, what does physics tell us about all this?

As part of the story, I did an experiment, putting a couple of footballs in the freezer and measuring the change in pressure. I described that in more detail on my blog.