Monday, August 13, 2007

The Physics of NASCAR

I am not much of race car or racing fan. But I know a lot of people are. So how many of them would care to know about Navier-Stokes equation via car racing application?

This article describes how a computer simulation can show how the air flows around fast-moving vehicles and shows it to TV audiences.

Computer scientists at the University of Washington have developed software that is incorporated in new technology allowing television audiences to instantaneously see how air flows around speeding cars. The algorithm, first presented at a computer graphics conference last August, was since used by sports network ESPN and sporting-technology company Sportvision Inc. to create a new effect for racing coverage.

The fast-paced innovation hit prime time in late July when ESPN used the Draft Track technology to visualize the air flow behind cars in the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard, a NASCAR race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

My question is, how many of the viewers will actually be conscious of the science behind what they're seeing? I guess this is another one of those things where the end result is the only thing that matters, which in this case, is an "entertainment" purpose and not a "science education". After all, who wants to be forced into learning fluid dynamics when one is engrossed in a car race?



1 comment:

Anonymous said...

You can find more information on my blog, and a press release about the University of Washington scientists who invented the algorithm they use.