World-renowned sports physicist to speak at Marshall

October 2, 2018

Dr. John Eric Goff, a professor of physics at the University of Lynchburg and world renowed sports physicist

HUNTINGTON — The physics department in Marshall University’s College of Science will present world-renowned sports physicist John Eric Goff on Monday, Oct. 15. He will speak twice, providing a colloquium talk on “Friction Challenges from the Sports World” at 2 p.m. Oct. 15 in Room 277 of the Science Building, and then give a presentation for the general public on a “Summer of Great Sports Science” at 7 p.m. that evening in Room 154 of Smith Hall. Goff’s visit kicks off Physics Week at Marshall.

Goff, a professor of physics at the University of Lynchburg, will focus his colloquium discussion on air friction in the context of World Cup soccer balls and also discuss friction between shoes and hard courts in tennis, particularly the relatively new tactic of sliding on a hard court. His “Summer of Great Sports Science” discussion, which is open to the public, will also discuss physics as it relates to World Cup soccer balls, and another of his research projects, Tour de France modeling.

“The topic of sports physics, or the physics involved in sports, is one that someone might not traditionally think of when they think of physics; however, sports and physics are heavily intertwined,” said Sean McBride, an assistant professor of physics at Marshall. “We are excited to have Dr. Goff highlight this area of physics to the community and student body.”

Goff earned an undergraduate degree in physics and mathematics from Vanderbilt University and did graduate work in condensed matter theory at Indiana University. He has been at the University of Lynchburg since 2002 and has developed an international reputation in the field of sports physics. Goff conducted research on World Cup soccer balls that shed light on problems with the Jabulani ball, which was used in South Africa in 2010, and highlighted successes with the Brazuca ball (Brazil 2014) and the Telstar 18 ball (Russia 2018). The accuracy of his modeling of the Tour de France has earned him appearances in worldwide media, including CNN International, the Washington Post and NPR, among other news outlets.

Goff has appeared on numerous episodes of StarTalk’s Playing with Science, and has done physics commentary as part of TuneIn’s NFL coverage in 2017. He has contributed to articles in TIME, The New York Times, Business Insider, The Wall Street Journal, WIRED, BBC and more.

Goff authored “Gold Medal Physics: The Science of Sports” (2010). A black belt in karate and blue belt in Krav Maga, he has another book, titled “Krav Maga Physics: The Science of Self Defense,” set to be released in 2019.

His visit kicks off Physics Week at Marshall, which promotes opportunities for the local community members, high school students and new physics majors at Marshall to participate in physics-focused events. Goff’s talks on sports physics are open to the public and provide a platform for the community to get involved. Physics Week continues with Research Orientation Day on Wednesday, Oct. 17, when faculty provide 10-minute talks directed to new and established physics majors with the intentions of getting them excited to perform undergraduate research in the laboratories of faculty members.

The Physics Week finale is High School Physics Day Friday, Oct. 19. From 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., local high schoolers in physics, math, chemistry and biology get to experience demonstrations performed by the physics faculty.

Reservations to McBride through high school administrators are necessary for participation in High School Physics Day. He can be reached by e-mail at mcbrides@marshall.edu.

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