When people talk about the physics of American
football, they normally mention force, torque, and so on… Like how the energy from two
linemen colliding is enough to power a 60W light bulb for over a minute, or is equivalent
to an average person falling two stories off of a building! But there’s another aspect of physics in football
that isn’t talked about as much – symmetry! You might think symmetry is just for butterflies
and rorschach tests, but it’s all over the place in football: there’s translational symmetry
when teams keep the same formations as they move up or down the field, and rotational
symmetry when they switch sides after a touchdown. Even the ball has axial symmetry so it can
spin smoothly through the air. But why is symmetry useful in the first place?
Symmetry makes things easier, or at least more efficient; it gives you a guide: “same
scenario, same action.” That means you don’t have to reinvent the wheel all the time: to
draw a straight line, you just keep drawing in the same direction. For a circle, keep
curving the same amount. So when football players practice a play over
and over, the patterns of football become so ingrained in their reflexes they can act
without thinking. Psychologists call this “habit formation”; we call it “symmetry in
time”! And when players line up on the field the same way at the thirty, or forty, or fifty
yard lines, that’s “symmetry in space”. Even physics itself is symmetric – ever
heard of Newton’s law: “a body in motion tends to stay in motion”? That’s just nature saying
“keep doing the same thing.” What’s more, Newton’s laws of motion are the same now as
they were yesterday, and they’ll be the same again tomorrow! Doesn’t that make life easy? Ultimately, symmetry is what allows both science
AND football to function – if the laws of the universe (or the rules of football) changed
from day to day, we wouldn’t be able to repeat experiments, make predictions, or know what
plays to practice. So when you reach for yet another handful
of chips while watching the next football game, know that millions across the country
are doing exactly the same, in perfect symmetry.

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Dennis Veasley

100 thoughts on “Football, Physics, and Symmetry”

  1. America is amazing. All you other countries see are stereotypes. America = Innovation and Freedom. Ever seen a Mac computer? America. Do you use Windows? America. And hey, now Mexico has the highest rate of obesity.

  2. This comment made me laugh, but I hope you actually were trying to be funny otherwise I have to cry for you now. : ) or ; ( ?

  3. Not knocking rugby. I'd just like to know why its called "rugby", and not "brawlball", or something. There're no rugs involved… I mean, football has at least one maneuver where the feet are involved (excluding the instance of actually running the ball). Is it just… slang from long ago?

  4. the game americans call soccer used to be called both soccer and football by everyone before what americans call football was invented (presumably in america). so which is football or soccer? well, both.

  5. When they said foot, they meant the imperial system's unit of length measurement. Sorry for any more confusion this system has caused. 😀

  6. i love how the german subtitles (too lazy to turn them off) say at 1:08 :"because americans don´t understand the metric system."

  7. american football literally isn't even on the top 10 list for most popular in the world. it is ONLY popular in america and has slight recognition in few other countries. meanwhile, football (soccer) is the world's most popular sport. in addition to that, the most valuable sports teams in the world are the football (soccer) teams from the premier league and la liga. so basically you're ignorant and wrong

  8. American football is the stupidest game in my opinion >.>
    And I am american.
    I may make more money than other sports cuz people like violence and that's really all football is, just without the blood and gore.

  9. People complain american football is rugby. So then volley ball and tennis must be the same sport with different equipment. Or baseball and kickball. Or handball and racket ball. Tennis and badminton even.

  10. I think "football" isn't that much of a good game. I mean, you get to see linemen crash into each other and a bunch of running, but that's about it.

  11. Did anyone else think this was extremely lame? Symmetry has nothing to do with anything. Seemed like he was pushing its definition

  12. that's not football that's more like a hand ball or  that american version  of  rugby !!! whats wrong with u america ????

  13. speaking of chips… I got one here. While playing farmville 2, I'll eat it on the next videos(started from latest ones towards the first one ever)

  14. That is NOT football. It`s some poofy American nonsense with body armour.
    Foot ball involves kicking ,with the feet, Not throwing and catching with the hands.
    Also Budweiser is a drinkable beer,only if brewed in the Czech republic, unlike that piss from USA that stole it`s name.
    Calling ALUMINIUM (al you mini um) Aloominum makes yanks sound like they are brain damaged (along with banging on about babyjeezus being real)
    Othrwise we are OK

  15. The pictures flash very fast, and your hand blocks the pictures. Honest comment: I can't really see what you are drawing.

  16. You may need to change the German translation.
    I do not care about the soccer football argument but american football does NOT translate to "Fussball

  17. Oddly enough, even though this goes against symmetry and this video, if nothing made any sense and everything was asymmetrical, it would still make sense until it repeated itself.

  18. I have read some posts here and it's clear that nobody outside of the USA(and Canada) cares about American football. But haven't you people noticed that we Americans don't care what you like or dislike, and nothing really matters until we says it does.  As a matter of fact you folks should be glad that only school children in America play soccer, because if our best athletes played then we'd win the World Cup too.

  19. You can't prove that the laws that govern the universe will not change in the future or have been the same in the distant past. You only assume that because it is conventient, like conservation of energy, for instance. All scientific assumptions are made upon common sence and for the sake of practicality, but are, nonetheless, mere assumptions and hence unfaulsifiable. 
    Stop scientific realism!

  20. Imagine this:
    You and someone is watching a football match/soccer game/…
    (That) Someone: Brb, I have to go to the toilet.
    You: OK, I'll go grab some more chips/popcorn/whatever.
    Same as above: *Goes to the toilet*
    You: *go to grab some chips/popcorn/whatever from the kitchen*
    Both: *Come to the living room and just as you enter, the TV screen breaks and a football/soccer ball comes out of it*

    How would you react to that (ignoring the fact, that the TV is broken)?

  21. I been subbed to this channel for over a year and all the videos are just pure bullshit. Nothing new or groundbreaking. Same annoying bullshit music in every video. And this guy narrating speaks so fast I can't help but think he can't wait to finish his poxy videos

  22. I unsubbed because I Syria ass lee do not think this channel will every come up with shit that will enlighten me.

  23. Football is just a fucking name for a stupid game, aren't you guys more mature than that? really

  24. Normal world: You use feet and legs to control the ball, hence the word football.
    USA: You use your hands and arms to to control the ball, hence the word football.

  25. Saying that after a touchdown, the two teams switch sides sounds misleading; rather, after a touchdown it's the the ball that switches sides.

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