Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Whirl Cup Science

You know how you kept shouting at Croatia yesterday to convert a goal, but they kept coming close and missing the box? As the world has done for several generations now, you can blame the Germans. See, what the Croatians, Iranians and other disappointed World Cup teams may not know is that this year's fancy football design (with those infinity-symbol panels in black and white) is actually much more than a pretty face: according to scientists, the new design is having an impact on the ball's performance in the air.

Adidas's Teamgeist football, as it is called, has 14 panels, instead of the traditional 26 or 32, thereby causing the ball to bounce about unpredictably if there isn't much spin on it -- which, thankfully, only happens rarely. Still, it does happen and can best be observed in slo-mo replays where the goalie is clearly confused about the direction the ball is taking and the kicker is astounded at how far he was from his target. Isn't it great to have someone to blame?