The first detailed, experiments have been performed on how atmospheric conditions might have reduced the air pressure in footballs used by the New England Patriots in their victory over the Indianapolis Colts nearly two weeks ago.
Most or all of the deflation could be explained by environmental effects.
A scientific study to simulate the game day conditions during the AFC Championship game to determine how temperature and rain affected the pressure within the football. In conclusion, we saw up to a 1.95 PSI reduction in pressure just from weather conditions alone.
Findings support the fact that due to the rainy conditions and a 25°F decrease in the footballs’ temperatures, it is expected that the footballs would experience a pressure decrease of about 1.82 ps
But wait did not Bill Nye the science guy say that temperature effects were not enough ? All academics who said this did a sloppy job with the Ideal guy law or did not account for all conditions.
“This [Headsmart] analysis looks solid to me,” said Max Tegmark, a professor of physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who reviewed the paper at The Times’s request. “To me, their measurements mean that there’s no evidence of foul play.
When the football controversy arose, a number of physicists cited the ideal gas law, which many of them taught in introductory courses. But applying the equation to real situations can be surprisingly deceptive. When a gauge indicates that the ball contains 12.5 p.s.i. — the minimum allowed by the N.F.L. — the actual pressure is more than twice that amount because the surrounding pressure of the atmosphere must be considered.
This roughly doubles how much a dip in temperature can lower the pressure. During a phone conversation, even Tegmark, the M.I.T. professor, initially used the lower value until recognizing the mistake. “I stand corrected,” he said, adding, “It’s pretty funny that the ideal gas law is making headlines.”
Still, several loose ends ensure that the controversy is not close to finished. If the Colts’ footballs were properly inflated, as they reportedly were, it might indicate that they were handled differently or inflated more fully to start with. If it turns out that both sets of balls were inflated and handled similarly, the N.F.L. is back to the likelihood that there was tampering by the Patriots.
Some other general points
* the Patriots won 45-7. 38 points. Slightly softer or harder balls were not the difference
SOURCES – Youtube, NY Times, Headsmart Labs