You know, a Newtons cradle. A simple looking gadget consisting of five suspended steel balls that defy our instinctive reasoning. The first time I saw a Newton's cradle, I was a young child and extremely mesmerized, and I still give it a swing or two every time I see one. I find myself wondering how this simple looking concept always performs, no matter how many times I have tried to prove it can fail.
Football is a totally different sequence of energy, momentum and motions, but I wonder if we are most times looking for a Newton's cradle type of gadget to apply to our Kentucky Wildcats team? I think every fan would like to see our football team perform with such ever-perfect contrasts of energy, that it leaves us pleasantly mesmerized at how well they work together.
I thought we would take a look at Newton's laws, Sir Isaac Newton that is, and think about how they apply to our football team, and come up with a few ideas why we sometimes see football moments that make us shake our heads. Let's see if we can conclude whether scientific laws are hurting us or helping us.
If you want to jump with me, please do not be intimidated with this science. This is a really basic explanation. I will keep it as simple as possible, mostly for my benefit, because explaining science is not my strong-suit. I have also included video clips from science360.gov about the game of football that I found to be exceptionally informative and vastly interesting.
The basics of the first law of motion (law of inertia) are: An object at rest will stay at rest, forever, as long as nothing pushes or pulls on it. Obviously the object is the football. It will not move until someone puts it into motion. See how simple that was? More on inertia in football. This is where the force need to be first thought of to avoid the football becoming a pinball bouncing off two or more "bumpers."
The second of Newton's laws (law of motion) deals with force and the mass of the object. The basics of the second law of motion are: When a force acts on an object, the object accelerates in the direction of the force. If the mass of an object is held constant, increasing force will increase acceleration. We know the mass of the football does not change, so we can just think about force. Offensively in football, the amount of force applied by the passer or kicker must be adjusted according to the distance one wants to achieve. Hear that Morgan? You need to adjust that strong arm a bit sometimes. More on motion in football.
Basics for the third law of motion (law of force pairs): For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. This law pertains to tackles and passes. It seems when stopping the ball carrier, effective tackles are a science. More on that in a second. With catches, the offensive player must alter the ball motion of propelling forward in the air to being carried forward in his hands. This sounds pretty easy, but stopping the forward motion pass without catching it forces the ball in the opposite direction. We have seen that a few times. It's pretty clear that our receivers haven't fully grasped the concept of Newton's third law, which is closely related to the conservation of momentum. When a ball hits the hands, momentum is conserved, so if the receiver doesn't soften his hands, the ball bounces away from him in the opposite direction. Kentucky football fans need our guys to have soft hands. Could the guys just think they are catching a large egg while not wanting it to break?
This was also the science lesson that Dicky Lyons Jr. taught to Craig Steltz back in 2007 -- When Dicky's head collided with Steltz's chin, an equal and opposite reaction sent Steltz three feet into the air, bringing into play Newton's fourth law, which was recently discovered in some previously unknown writings. Newton's fourth law (law of DLJ) states that when overwhelming force is applied to a football player's chin, innumerable "ooohs" and "aaahs" as well as countless Sports Center highlights and YouTube videos act to conserve the moment forever. This law is best embodied in the modern concept of "posterization." Okay ... I know you want to see it again.
I've concluded we need to remind Morgan, if he has cocked his arm for a receiver far down the field, but the only open one is a mere 5-yards away, he needs to first loosen the spring a bit. We need to teach the guys to catch ostrich eggs without breaking them, and show them how effectively stopping like Dicky Lyons Jr. did will bring sounds they have forgotten. I am not sure what needs more tweaking, but apparently science applications are very important in football; I'm hoping someone announces this to the team.
Lastly, if some of you want to add more science facts to the game, feel free. I have really enjoyed learning how these theories apply to football and if you are still with me, I hope you did too. Also, if you know of a science professor that loves UK football that is willing to contribute to our team, you might want to strongly send a loud hint of "Maybe you could ..." It can't hurt, can it?