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Problem Statement

Subject : Physics Code: MAP 2142

Document MAP 2142/ACT/01/Rev00/Jul10 Duratio 1h Semeste 1
No: n: r:



Aerodynamics of sports balls

The first explanation of the lateral deflection of a spinning object was credited by
Lord Rayleigh to work done by the German physicist Gustav Magnus in 1852.
Magnus had actually been trying to determine why spinning shells and bullets
deflect to one side, but his explanation applies equally well to balls. Indeed, the
fundamental mechanism of a curving ball in football is almost the same as in other
sports such as baseball, golf, cricket and tennis.

Consider a ball that is spinning about an axis perpendicular to the

flow of air across it (see left). The air travels faster relative to the
center of the ball where the periphery of the ball is moving in the
same direction as the airflow. This reduces the pressure, according
to Bernouilli's principle. The opposite effect happens on the other
Spinning ball side of the ball, where the air travels slower relative to the center
of the ball. There is therefore an imbalance in the forces and the
ball deflects - or, as Sir J J Thomson put it in 1910, "the ball follows its nose". This
lateral deflection of a ball in flight is generally known as the "Magnus effect".

The forces on a spinning ball that is flying through the air are generally divided into
two types: a lift force and a drag force. The lift force is the upwards or sidewards
force that is responsible for the Magnus effect. The drag force acts in the opposite
direction to the path of the ball.

Let us calculate the forces at work in a well taken free kick. Assuming that the
velocity of the ball is 25-30 ms-1 (about 70 mph) and that the spin is about 8-10
revolutions per second, then the lift force turns out to be about 3.5 N. The
regulations state that a professional football must have a mass of 410-450 g, which
means that it accelerates by about 8 ms-2. And since the ball would be in flight for 1
s over its 30 m trajectory, the lift force could make the ball deviate by as much as 4
m from its normal straight-line course. Enough to trouble any goalkeeper!
Problem Statement
Subject : Physics Code: MAP 2142
Document MAP 2142/ACT/01/Rev00/Jul10 Duratio 1h Semeste 1
No: n: r:

The drag force, FD, on a ball increases with the square of the velocity, v, assuming
that the density, r, of the ball and its cross-sectional area, A,
remain unchanged: FD = CDrAv2/2. It appears, however, that the
"drag coefficient", CD, also depends on the velocity of the ball. For
example, if we plot the drag coefficient against Reynold's number
- a non-dimensional parameter equal to rv D /µ, where D is the Physical drag
diameter of the ball and µ is the kinematic viscosity of the air - we
find that the drag coefficient drops suddenly when the airflow at the surface of the
ball changes from being smooth and laminar to being turbulent (see right).

When the airflow is laminar and the drag coefficient is high, the
boundary layer of air on the surface of the ball "separates"
relatively early as it flows over the ball, producing vortices in its
wake. However, when the airflow is turbulent, the boundary layer
sticks to the ball for longer. This produces late separation and a
Turbulent air & small drag.
The Reynold's number at which the drag coefficient drops
therefore depends on the surface roughness of the ball. For example, golf balls,
which are heavily dimpled, have quite a high surface roughness and the drag
coefficient drops at a relatively low Reynold's number ( 2 x 104). A football,
however, is smoother than a golf ball and the critical transition is reached at a much
higher Reynold's number (4 x 105) .

The upshot of all of this is that a slow-moving football experiences

a relatively high retarding force. But if you can hit the ball fast
enough so that the airflow over it is turbulent, the ball
experiences a small retarding force (see right). A fast-moving
football is therefore double trouble for a goalkeeper hoping to
make a save - not only is the ball moving at high speed, it also Drag vs speed
does not slow down as much as might be expected. Perhaps the
best goalkeepers intuitively understand more physics than they realize.
Problem Statement
Subject : Physics Code: MAP 2142
Document MAP 2142/ACT/01/Rev00/Jul10 Duratio 1h Semeste 1
No: n: r:

In 1976 Peter Bearman and colleagues from Imperial College, London, carried out a
classic series of experiments on golf balls. They found that increasing the spin on a
ball produced a higher lift coefficient and hence a bigger Magnus force. However,
increasing the velocity at a given spin reduced the lift coefficient. What this means
for a football is that a slow-moving ball with a lot of spin will have a larger sideways
force than a fast-moving ball with the same spin. So as a ball slows down at the end
of its trajectory, the curve becomes more pronounced.

This article is taken from http://www.soccerballworld.com/Physics.htm


1. Work in group.

2. Select a leader.

3. Select a person to read the article aloud in front of the group.

4. Member of the group must list down all the physical quantities and their
units mentioned in the article.

5. Try to explain the meaning/definition of the physical quantities listed.

Duration: 1 hour (SCL) 1 hour (TCL)