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This article is from the In-Depth Report The Science of Pro Football

Introducing the Science of Pro Football

What does Sir Isaac Newton have to do with gridiron glory? Plenty, it turns out. In a special partnership with NBC Learn, we present supplemental information for the educational video series, "The Science of NFL Football"



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Passing, blocking, running, tackling, kicking--the main physical actions of American football illustrate several fundamental concepts in physics, biomechanics and math. Inertia, momentum, vectors and parabolas are as much a part of the game as helmets and huddles.
 
In partnership with the National Science Foundation and the National Football League, NBC Learn has created 10 videos that explore several concepts:
 
* Newton's three laws of motion
* The Pythagorean theorem
* Projectile motion
* Vectors
*  Geometric shapes
* Kinematics
*  Torque
*  Hydration and nutrition
 
All this week, we'll be providing additional stories that take the concepts explored in the video further. Here's a sampling:
 
1. When is a straight line not the shortest distance between two points?
2. How many pounds of water does an NFL player lose on the field?
3. Why has soccer-style placekicking replaced the straight-ahead, toe style?
4. How much energy does it take to stop a running back?
5. When it comes to a chase, how are ball carriers like zebras? (The real kind, not the ones with a whistle and yellow flag in their pockets.)
6. What shapes fly best?
 
So next weekend, when you are watching your favorite team square off with the opponent, you might have a chance to say the vector of the prolate spheroid perfectly traced a planned parabolic trajectory.

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