With the attention of sports fans worldwide focused on South Africa and the 2010 FIFA World Cup, U.S. scientist John Eric Goff has made the aerodynamics of the soccer ball a focus of his research.
In an article appearing in the magazine Physics Today this month, Goff examines the science of soccer and explains how the world’s greatest players are able to make a soccer ball do things that would seem to defy the forces of nature.
Goff’s article looks at the ball’s changing design and how its surface roughness and asymmetric air forces contribute to its path once it leaves a player’s foot. His analysis leads to an understanding of how reduced air density in games …