One of sports greatest scientific mysteries has been solved, sort of. Two University of Northern British Columbia physicists have explained the centuries-old question of why a curling stone curls, or moves laterally, in a counter-intuitive direction.
The solution – published in the current issue of the Canadian Journal of Physics – isnt an elegant equation of the kind mathematicians adore, say the scientists, but rather one that involved a lot of experimental sweeping. The explanation, nonetheless, could spark controversy at rinks – and even result in a new super-curl shot. "If you turn a glass over, spin it and slide it down a table it curls in the opposite way compared to a curling stone," says Dr. Mark Shegelski, an NSERC-funded UNBC theoretical physicist describing his post-game barroom demonstration of the problem. "The curlers think youre doing some kind of magic, until they do it themselves and see that the glass goes the wrong way."
Curling is the indoor winter sport popularized by the Scots, and now an official winter Olympic event, in which two opposing teams slide and rotate smooth 20-kilogram (44-pound) ovals of granite (the stone) down a 28-metre-long sheet of ice. The goal is to get your teams stones closer to the centre of a bulls eye-style target than the other teams.
Erik Jensen | EurekAlert!
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