How does angular momentum help figure skater Rachael Flatt achieve the perfect triple toe loop? How does elastic collision allow three-time Olympic hockey player Julie Chu convert a game-winning slapshot? How do Newton’s Three Laws of Motion propel short track speed skater J.R. Celski to the finish line? These are just a few of the scientific principles explored in a special 16-part video series entitled “The Science of the Olympic Winter Games,” presented by NBC Learn, NBC Olympics and the National Science Foundation.
In a unique collaboration, NBC Learn, the educational arm of NBC News, has teamed up with NBC Olympics and the National Science Foundation (NSF) to produce a 16-part video series focusing on the science behind how athletes preparing for February’s Vancouver Games skate, ski, jump and curl to Olympic gold.
The video series is narrated by NBC News anchor Lester Holt and available to viewers on www.nbclearn.com. NBC’s “Today” premiered a piece from the series this morning. The project will also be offered to educators as a timely way to incorporate the Olympics into classroom learning.
In each piece in the series, an NSF-supported scientist explains the selected scientific principle, while Olympic athletes describe how these principles apply to their respective sports. The science is broken down by capturing the athletes’ movements with a state-of-the-art, high-speed camera called the Phantom Cam, which has the ability to capture movement at rates of up to 1,500 frames per second. This allows frame-by-frame illustrations of Newton’s Three Laws of Motion, the Law of Conservation of Angular Momentum, friction, drag, speed, velocity, and other scientific concepts.