Ryan Crauser at Rio Olympics
Ryan Crauser at Rio Olympics

Olympic Physics Throwdown with Charles Liu

Fernando Frazão/Agência Brasil, CC BY 3.0 BR, via Wikimedia Commons
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About This Episode

Throwing? Jumping? Wrestling? On this episode, Neil deGrasse Tyson and co-hosts Chuck Nice and Gary O’Reilly break down the physics of some of the original Olympic events with Geek-in-Chief astrophysicist Charles Liu. Is there an ultimate technique to winning gold?

Is there one shape that’s best for throwing? We explore the origins of the Olympics and some of its oldest events. What makes the discus such an aerodynamic shape? What’s the throwing strategy behind the hammer throw? Is there an ideal angle to throw one of these objects? Find out how the javelin manages to land head down and not skid across the field. What’s the strategy behind Ryan Crouser’s record breaking throw? Discover the differences in how the ancients threw and how we throw now!

Next, we explore Olympic jumping starting with the long jump. Why did Bob Beamon’s 1968 record stand for so long? How much can your environment affect the outcome of the jump? We break down the differences in physics and technique for all the different jumping events. Neil pushes back on rules–why do we have so many? Discover just how difficult the triple jump is. Why do we even have it? Find out about the Fosbury Flop and how it revolutionized the high jump. 

Neil takes us back to his high school days to explore the world of wrestling. What is Greco-Roman style wrestling? From a physics standpoint what is the ultimate wrestling move? Would fellow wrestlers agree? Find out just how much your weight matters when trying to win a match and how they make Olympic-style wrestling more action-packed. All that, plus, did Charles Liu ever get a sweet taste of victory? 

Thanks to our Patrons Avneesh Joshi, Thomas Harshbarger, Tor Eystad, William Lautenberger, Sabrina Anderson, Adam Collins, Titus Orr, Christopher Robinson, Caleb Stark, and Stephen Austin for supporting us this week.

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

About the prints that flank Neil in this video:

“Black Swan” & “White Swan” limited edition serigraph prints by Coast Salish artist Jane Kwatleematt Marston. For more information about this artist and her work, visit Inuit Gallery of Vancouver.


In This Episode

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