sports science

How a Mouthguard Can Change a Game

An ultra high-tech tooth protector is claiming nearly unbelievable, physical improvement in athletic performance

From the US PopSci team

You’ve likely seen athletes chewing on them, spitting them out or sticking them in their helmet. But a high tech version of what seems part mouth fetish and part tooth protector has performance enhancing capability according to data from Pure Power Mouthguard. Research conducted at Rutgers University, USA, (funded by PPM) claims some impressive, nearly unbelievable, physical improvement from just wearing the guard. Wait till WADA gets a hold of this one.

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Is Pot a Performance Enhancer?

The unfair science behind the M(J) Phelps suspension

We didn’t want to write about it. Seriously, we didn’t. Sure, Michael Phelps has digital technology, the 24-hour news cycle and precision blown glass to blame for his plight but we’re better than that.* But when US Swimming went and suspended Phelps for two months for, ultimately, acting his age, we felt compelled to write something. The 'Science' part of Popular Science restricts us from condemning the insanity of the punishment (note, however, they did nothing following his 2003 DUI).

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The Power of Darkness

Is eye black just for show?

War paint. Fashion statement. Tradition. Advertisement. Pulpit. That's why most athletes wear black grease, or stickers, under their eyes. The vague possibility of some anti-reflective capability helping to distinguish a speeding object while staring into light seems more a rationalization for routine than a true crack at a competitive advantage. What make us so confident? In 60-years of misplaced mascara there's been one peer-reviewed study, and a couple less esteemed, that even attempted to quantify the effect of the ritual. Funny thing is, the data shows it works. Well, sort of.

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Calibrating Cheers

Technology to measure football fans' every sudden gasp and wild shout

Viewer reaction to television can be emotional and emphatic. Case in point: when David Tyree caught Eli Manning's pass against his helmet in the fourth quarter of the 2008 Super Bowl, all of New England regurgitated while New York rejoiced. The YouTube clip above plots a complex compilation of diverging biometric data from 15 devastated Patriot fans and 15 elated Giants fans. Not only did the fans react to the play, but they reacted to each replay.

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Sport Briefs

New studies on fitness, fatness, baldness, and more

  • Other than looking good, is there any real benefit to the trend of skin-tight workout clothes? According to research conducted at Charles Sturt University in Australia, not so much.
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What Counts as Drug Use in Sports?

Is eye-surgery like steroids? Should performance-enhancers be permitted? Let your voice be heard

Every issue has two sides and at they offer the pros and cons to each. From politics to prostitution to the death penalty, the non-partisan nonprofit organization has invited experts to offer their unbiased, differing, opinions on controversial issues since 2004. The latest topic on the forum? Drug use in sports.

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Pole Power

The remarkable physics of a powerful vault

It's rather hard to believe that the world record in the pole vault is over 20 feet. That's twice the height of the "high dive" at your local pool. Expertise in the pole vault requires speed, skill, strength, and kamikaze-style fearlessness. It also requires a method to convert the kinetic energy of the approach into the maximum possible gravitational potential energy. That's where the pole comes in.

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NBA Uses Video Games to Analyze Real Games

The Association turns to NBA Live 09 to fix NBA, well, live

NBA general managers want to see if their basketball players have game–inside the video game series NBA Live.

About half of NBA teams use the video game in their evaluation of rookies and possible trades, according to the Los Angeles Times. They say that the game allows them to assess new players based on early season statistics, as well as get a sense of how adding a player might change a team's dynamic.

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Sports Fans Paid to Watch

New research into what people talk about when they watch the game is proving nice work if you can get it

Forget pay per view. In the UK, soccer fans are getting paid to view. Research at Glasgow University is ongoing to learn what people talk about while watching sports. The goal is to develop specific mobile phone applications for the sports obsessed to further immerse them during viewing.

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When Dogs Fly

An in-depth video look at an invention that's revolutionizing baseball spectation

With all due respect to the "Best of What's New Awards," it appears my esteemed editors at Popular Science missed at least one invention in their yearly lineup. The Hatfield Hot Dog Launcher has changed the way fans eat and scream at Citizens Bank Park, home of the World Series champion Philadelphia Phillies.

"What does the wheel mean to mankind? What does landing on the moon mean to mankind? I think that's what the launcher means to mankind," notes an engineer who worked on the launcher.

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Young Sports Fans Embrace Science

Harnessing football fever to help kids learn

The Boston sports fan has been spoiled rotten over the past decade. Now middle school students in Beantown are receiving similar treatment with a unique program that uses sports to teach science at Gillette Stadium, home of the New England Patriots.

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Building a Better Golf Ball

Callaway slams competitor Titleist with a patent suit concerning parentage of a high tech golf ball

Apparently those high tech golf balls really are all the same. Or at least two of them according to a U.S. District court that ordered Titleist this month to stop selling its Pro V1 golf ball by 2009. The court claimed the balls were in violation of a Callaway Golf patent but has yet to rule on damages. And just how much cash could a measly golf ball have generated? According to the suit – more than $1 billion.

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The Fastest Punch on the Planet

Training elite boxers now takes some seriously high tech data mining

Roy Jones Jr. just might be the next to boxer endorse the Counter-Punch technology as a training tool. Leading up to his fight with Jones, Joe Calzaghe remained tight lipped about his training techniques. But as fight night drew near, Calzaghe discussed for the first time his use of a novel punching bag capable of quantifying the speed, power and sequence of punches. All factors with which Jones became familiar while losing to the still undefeated, and recently retired, Calzaghe.

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Japanese Binocular Soccer

Another rollicking physics demonstration from Japanese TV

I was very pleased to find out about the existence of "binocular soccer". It's a whimsical, silly romp, another manifestation of that distinctly Japanese sense of humor. Check out "human Tetris" for another delight in the same genre. The inherent difficulty of playing this game has much to do with fundamental principles of optics.

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Shades of the Future

There's interesting potential in Hindsight

Looks like Lance Armstrong might have a new pair of sunglasses for his comeback tour. The blogs lit up in the past few weeks with attention surrounding a pair of Nike sunglasses that increase a rider's peripheral vision from the standard 180 degrees to up to 240. Given Lance's pension for wearing yellow, the new specs could come in handy. Only problem is that Nike isn't actually making the glasses. Confused? We dug into the mystery.

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