Astound your playmates -- with physics

Now that's a neat little trick. Once again that characteristically Japanese sense of humor gives us an opportunity to glimpse some interesting physics in an entertaining venue. Of course we aren't too surprised to see a water skier plane over the water, or to see a rock skipping esthetically across a placid pond. However, a water slide entry propelling someone into an "unaided" skid across a swimming pool seems a more rare and special event -- even though the physical principles are the same.

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Helmets Don't Stop Concussions

Padded headgear doesn't reduce the rate of concussion or head injury for rugby union players

Padded headgear doesn't reduce the rate of concussion or head injury for rugby union players, a major new Australian study has found.

It concluded that although individual players may choose to wear the padded headgear, its routine use cannot be recommended to reduce the chances of sustaining concussion while playing or training.

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Ladies and gentlemen, the Reebok Pump is Back on the Scene! Well, Sort Of

The company that first told you to ‘Pump it Up’ is launching a new 2-in-1 design that converts from a running shoe to a cross trainer... with nothing more than your footsteps

The original Pump sneaker (which we all remember well) was intended to optimize the shoe’s fit; the new Reebok SmoothFit SelectRide goes the extra mile, offerering both the stability of a trainer and the cushion of a running shoe; and you don’t even have to untie your laces. Launching next Wednesday, and available for $149.99 only at Champs Sports, the SelectRide is the second attempt by the footwear industry to design an intelligent shoe.

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Super Undergarments

A new series of Adidas sportswear uses polymer springs to give athletes an extra edge

From the US PopSci team. In 2007, American basketball star Dwight Howard donned a Superman cape before leaping to victory in the slam dunk competition. In an attempt to defend his title this weekend (he came in second), Howard topped his own theatrics by entering a phone booth for his annual costume change. The basketball player-cum-superhero returned to the court to dunk, not in a regulation 10-foot basket, but in a 12-foot-high hoop.

While it's natural to attribute such supernatural feats to Howard's freakish physical stature -- or perhaps to the cape around his neck -- it was actually the skintight clothing beneath the cape that produced the boldest and most easily quantifiable performance enhancement. An undergarment described as, not clothing, but equipment, the Adidas Techfit Powerweb contains carefully placed strips of thermoplastic urethane that stores energy like a spring, and lets athletes release it on their villain of choice.

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Shifting Gears (Electronically)

How Shimano's new shifting systems makes changing gears faster, easier and more accurate

From the US PopSci team. Last year bicycle manufacturer Shimano debuted its years-in-the-making electronic gear shifting system, the Dura Ace 7970 Di2. Electronic shifting, which replaces traditional steel cables with a precise CPU-controlled system of sensors and motors, had long been a goal of bike makers. A workable solution, however, proved elusive. So when Shimano finally got it right with the Dura Ace system, it earned PopSci’s 2008 Best Of What’s New Grand Award in the Recreation category.

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Red Bull Racing Launch 2009 F1 Car Virtually

Australian Mark Webber's new ride for the 2009 F1 season has been unveiled virtually in a 3D video you can watch here, a day before the real launch

The Red Bull Racing F1 team has launched their 2009 challenger in a 3D video, more than 24 hours before the physical launch of the car. With arguably the most significant changes to the cars in the history of Formula 1 taking place this year, the team has put together this video that explains the changes. Narrated by the team's new recruit, German Sebastian Vettel (who became the youngest ever F1 winner last year), the video literally transforms the 2008 car into the 2009 one so you can see all the changes that have taken place and understand the effect they will have.

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Staying Cool in the Crunch

The art and science of anti-choking technology

What did last night's episode of The Office have in common with the Super Bowl, other than the latter preceding the former? Did anybody notice the little gadget that beeped when Michael Scott stepped close to Stanley?

After suffering a heart attack, Stanley decided to wear a "biofeedback machine" that provided an audible alert when his stress level was rising. When our favorite boss had his employees lying on a floor and envisioning "walking through a meadow," Stanley's stress would spike whenever his superior was near.

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A Greener Bowl

Four eco-friendly initiatives at the big game

On the surface, the only thing green about the Super Bowl is the 95,000 square feet of brand new turf (at a cost of US$85,000) they require to be brought into the host of the big game (okay, come to think of it, that's not very green at all). But, the NFL is doing what they can to give the appearance of being a neutral event in the decaying of our environment.

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Runners release heart attack indicator

People who run marathons are more likely to have higher levels of a protein linked to heart attacks, according to researchers at the University of Western Australia

UWA's Associate Professor Daniel Fatovich and UWA Clinical Associate Professor Samuel Vasikaran, a biochemist, are two of the co-authors of a paper published in the Medical Journal of Australia last week, which studied 92 runners who competed in the 2007 Perth Marathon.

Dr Fatovich, an emergency medicine specialist at Royal Perth Hospital, said elevated levels of the heart protein troponin were commonly used as an indicator when diagnosing a heart attack.

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The Making of a Football

A behind-the-seams look at where the magic begins

What makes a cowhide into a football (nope, they're not pigskins)? In the case of the NFL, it's a trip to Ada, Ohio (population 5,847). Since 1941 Wilson has provide the official NFL game ball and since 1955 those balls have been laced and branded in a single manufacturing plant in Ada, Ohio. The only dedicated football plant worldwide pumps out more than 700,000 balls. each year. Ain't that America?

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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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What economic downturn? Aston Martin unveils new supercar

The iconic British sports/luxury car brand made even more famous by its appearances in Bond movies is set to return to the Le Mans 24 Hours with this beast

This is the Aston Martin LMP1 car. The British car manufacturer will attempt to win the 2009 Le Mans 24 Hours with it, 50 years after it last won the famous race. Despite Britain being in recession and car manufacturers the world over pulling out of motorsports, Aston Martin is throwing everything they have at this years Le Mans.

The car is based on the 2008 Charouz Racing System Lola and will be powered by a meaty Aston Martin V12 engine. The video shows the Aston Martin powered Lola car in action. In 2008 the engine brought home victory in the GT1 division of Le Mans, powering a DB9.

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Trying Out Wearable Hydration

Brett Zarda does the Camelbak

What do you buy for an avid cyclist that's already spent a fortune on the latest weightless bike, wireless cycling speaker, and a lifetime supply of yellow Livestrong bracelets? How about a shirt full of water?

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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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