Tobi 87's Image of Usain Bolt during the 100m heat of the 14th IAAF World Championships in Athletics, via Wikimedia Commons.
Tobi 87's Image of Usain Bolt during the 100m heat of the 14th IAAF World Championships in Athletics, via Wikimedia Commons.

A Materials World

Photo Credit: Tobi 87, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons.
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About This Episode

It’s a materials world on StarTalk Sports Edition as Neil deGrasse Tyson and co-hosts Chuck Nice and Gary O’Reilly continue our “game-changers” mini-series. On this episode, our trio investigates material science and its impact on sports alongside engineer Jud Ready.

Besides being an engineer, Jud serves as the Deputy Director of Innovation Initiatives for the Georgia Tech ‘Institute for Materials’, an Adjunct Professor in the School of Materials Science & Engineering at Georgia Tech, and a Principal Research Engineer on the research faculty of Georgia Tech Research Institute. So, safe to say, we found the right person. 

To start, we discuss the importance of the strength to weight ratio. Jud tells us about his work involving carbon nanotubes. We also discuss the differences between carbon nanotubes vs. carbon fiber. We investigate different types of track including mondotrack, asphalt, and concrete. You’ll hear why using a mondotrack literally makes it a level playing field. 

We debate the idea of limiting technological advancements in sports. If we can use materials to make athletes run faster, jump higher, and be stronger – why limit that? Find out more about the “trampoline effect”. We investigate the current state of golf balls and how the materials used to make them have evolved since the invention of the game. 

Lastly, we take a look at other advancements including the poles used for pole vaulting and “sharkskin” swimsuits. We also debate how we could make baseball better if the game allowed it. All that, plus, we ponder the future of electronic-based clothing. 

NOTE: StarTalk+ Patrons can watch or listen to this entire episode commercial-free.

In This Episode

  • Host

    Neil deGrasse Tyson

    Neil deGrasse Tyson
  • Co-Host

    Gary O'Reilly

    Gary O'Reilly
    Broadcaster, Sport Analyst, former Professional Footballer
  • Co-Host

    Chuck Nice

    Chuck Nice
  • Guest

    Jud Ready

    Jud Ready
    Principal Research Engineer, Georgia Tech Research Institute
    Deputy Director, Innovation Initiatives – Institute for Materials
    Adjunct Professor – School of Materials Science & Engineering Georgia Institute of Technology

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