It only takes one rained-out Little League game to make a sports lover resent Mother Nature. Now some of today’s scientists and other bigwigs have taken it upon themselves to say: “no more.” Not content to stand idly by and let something as mundane as climate dictate the success of our sports games, they have instead turned to geoengineering - intentional manipulation of the Earth's environment - to fight back.
By Mark AndersPosted 04.18.2011 at 10:05 am 22 Comments
Surfers want to ride waves, not tire out while paddling to them. That’s where the WaveJet comes in. Two battery-powered jets tucked into the shortboard’s three-inch shell provide 20 pounds of thrust to propel riders at 12 mph—three times the average paddling speed.
For decades, pro golfers have customized their clubs to help them straighten shots. TaylorMade's new R11 driver lets amateurs tweak their club in seconds and more accurately adjust shots than with previous models. the company's last driver had a moveable shaft to increase loft; each half-degree shift, though, also rotated the face in two-degree chunks, which could send drives adrift. The R11 adds an extra layer of adjustability, so golfers can change both loft and direction for the first time, saving amateurs from the tactics pros have used in the past, such as bending the head-shaft joint with blowtorches.
The first ever full-length robot marathon is being run right now in Japan. And one of the bots is live-streaming its point-of-view video so we humans can see what it's like to run around and around for 26 miles, without leaving our comfortable chairs.
Under Armour's E39 shirt looks mostly like a typical Under Armour compression shirt, which is to say, entirely unflattering on those of us who aren't professional athletes. But the E39 is actually a very different beast from the usual apparel, packing a triaxial accelerometer, a heart-rate monitor, and a breathing monitor. The days of simply clocking an NFL prospect's 20-yard sprint time are over--now coaches can see second-to-second updates on the player's internals, and even track the acceleration and deceleration of a player's individual strides.
Practice only makes perfect if you know what perfect looks like. A successful free throw, for example, requires a precise arc, spin and release point, and until now, only a good coach could really spot what was off about a shot.
The same sensors that detect the tilt of your smartphone could well start showing up in the helmets of NFL players by next season, but for a very different purpose. We know that cranial trauma from helmet-on-helmet impact can cause concussions and other serious medical issues, but we don't have a ton of data showing exactly what kind of head-bashing is the most harmful. These sensors could provide that information, and in turn lead to smarter, more protective helmets.
The Philadelphia Eagles announced a partnership with Solar Blue to completely re-green their stadium (and to make endless puns about "greening" the team with the deep green uniforms). It's actually pretty groundbreaking stuff: They plan to use a combination of on-site wind turbines, solar panels, and a dual-fuel (biodiesel and natural gas) plant to run on completely self-generated renewable energy by September 2011. It'll be the only stadium in the world that can make that claim.
After a few weeks of testing, the NBA has officially banned Athletic Propulsion Labs's Concept 1 sneaker. The Concept 1 uses a spring-loaded system to allegedly improve a player's vertical leap by a few (but significant) inches--a benefit that, true or not, just doesn't fly with the NBA.