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People Top 5
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PEOPLE Top 5 are the most-viewed stories on the site over the past three days, updated every 60 minutes
- December 04, 2000
- Vol. 54
- No. 24
Physics Professor Tim Gay Puts a Fresh—and Factual—Spin on Football for Fans at the University of Nebraska
Defying the laws of probability, the 47-year-old researcher (a specialist in the scattering of electrons by atomic and molecular targets) has become a fan favorite with his crowd-pleasing Football Physics videos, now in their second season at Huskers home games. In each of the 45-second clips, the 6'4", 230-lb. academic, himself a former college tackle—he candidly describes his career on the notoriously inept Caltech squad as "sorely undistinguished"—employs humor, diagrams, footage from past Nebraska games and even the occasional player to demonstrate how such concepts as energy, momentum and torque work. During a discussion of the movement of sound in the stadium, illustrated with a clip of cheering Huskers partisans performing a wave, the pigskin prof observes, "Sound travels fast, but light travels faster—about 300,000 times faster.... Now the speed of Bobby Newcombe, of course, is in a class all by itself."
Since his gig began, tapes of Gay's segments have also been scoring in high schools across Nebraska. "At first I was a little nervous that it would turn the fans off," confesses the Ohio-born father of two sons. "But I couldn't resist the chance to talk about my favorite subject. Plus, here I didn't have to grade tests or give homework."
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