NBC Learn and NBC Sports, in partnership with the National Science Foundation, explore the science, technology, engineering and math at the Olympic Winter Games.
Olympic Movement & Robotic Design
The Olympic Winter Games are a showcase of human movement and athletic achievement. Raffaello D'Andrea of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology draws inspiration from Olympic athletes with the quadrocopter, a flying robotic device that has the ability to learn and improve its performance over time.
Physics of Figure Skating
Figure skaters must be aware of their center of mass, which affects the balance and stability of every step, jump, spin, and lift that the skaters perform.
Stability & Vibration Damping in Alpine Skiing
For alpine skiers Heath Calhoun and Julia Mancuso the engineering and design of their skis will be critical to success at the Olympic Winter Games, especially when it comes to hard packed snow surfaces where vibrations on the slope impact speed and performance.
Science of Snow
Snow is an essential part of the Olympic Winter Games. How it's formed and how it reacts has been studied by scientists for centuries and continues to this day by scientists like glaciologist Sarah Konrad and chemist Cort Anastasio.
Building Faster & Safer Bobsleds
Bobsled is one of the fastest and most exciting sports at the Olympic Winter Games. Michael Scully from BMW DesignWorks USA is the designer behind the new two-man Team USA bobsled, which he hopes will be one of the fastest sleds ever build. Meantime, engineers like Mont Hubbard are working to make tracks safer for the athletes.
Science of Ice
The unique surface of ice allows the slide and glide of winter sports to happen, with ice specially created to serve the needs of various Olympic events.
Injury & Recovery
While on course to defend her downhill gold medal, Lindsey Vonn suffered a devastating knee injury when she tore her ACL. Using the field of regenerative engineering, Cato Laurencin has engineered the L-C ligament, a device that could one day reduce recovery time and get athletes like Vonn back on the slopes faster.
Shani Davis & Engineering Competition Suits
Long track speed skater Shani Davis has the opportunity to become the first man to win gold medals in the same event in three consecutive Olympic Winter Games. In addition to his quickness, endurance, and skating prowess, Davis will be wearing one of the most advanced competition suits ever engineered.
Shaun White & Engineering the Half Pipe
Shaun White is known for his spectacular tricks in the Olympic snowboard half pipe event. More than just his incredible athletic skill and years of training, it's also the engineering and design of the half pipe that allows White to gain enough speed to generate big air.
Nick Goepper & the Physics of Slopestyle Skiing
Slopestyle skiing will debut at the Olympic Winter Games in Sochi with Nick Goepper leading the way for the United States. Along with physical skill, Goepper must rely on physics in order to spin, twist, and flip through the air.
The Science of Skis
Skis used by Olympic skiers are engineered by materials scientists to have the flexibility, stability and torsional rigidity. NSF-funded scientists Melissa Hines and Kathy Flores, and three U.S. Olympic skiers explain.
The Science of Skates
Skates used by Olympic speed skaters, figure skaters and hockey players are engineered by materials scientists for those particular athletes. NSF-funded scientists Melissa Hines and Sam Colbeck, and three Olympic skaters, explain.
The Internal Athlete: Cross-Country Skiing
Cross-country skiers train to increase their ability to take up and use oxygen--a maximum aerobic capacity measured by a VO2 Max test. Two NSF-funded scientists explain the biomechanics, assisted by members of the U.S. Cross-Country Ski Team and a trainer.
Slapshot Physics: Hockey
The slapshot is the fastest shot in ice hockey--and an excellent illustration of elastic collisions and momentum exchange, as NSF-funded scientists Thomas Humphrey and Kathy Flores, with U.S. Olympic hockey player Julie Chu, explain.
The Olympics are a chance to marvel at the physical abilities of the athletes. But what makes these athletes so unique from the rest of us? Dan Fletcher, an Associate Professor in the Department of Bioengineering at UC Berkeley, explores how the organization of human cells through training, exercise and "muscle memory" produce the fantastic range of Olympic motion.
The chemistry and materials science used to create aerodynamic competition suits is described by NSF-funded scientists Melissa Hines, Troy Flanagan of the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Assoc., and Olympic speed skating, luge and ski jump competitors.
Distributed by NIEonline.com with permission
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About the National Science Foundation
The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent federal agency that supports fundamental research and education across all fields of science and engineering. In fiscal year (FY) 2010, its budget is about $6.9 billion. NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 universities and institutions. Each year, NSF receives over 45,000 competitive requests for funding, and makes over 11,500 new funding awards. NSF also awards over $400 million in professional and service contracts yearly.