Faster than any previous ball. Learn more about the physics of the 2022 World Cup ball held in Qatar | Sciences

Players in the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar will use a new ball called the “travel”. According to a physicist, this ball has aerodynamics that enable it to move in flight at a speed faster than any other ball in the history of the tournament.

As is the case with every World Cup, Adidas introduces a new ball, and in the 2022 FIFA World Cup currently being held in Qatar, players are using a new ball called “The Journey”, and according to a sports physicist, this ball has the aerodynamics of the champion.

In an article published on “The Conversation” website, John Eric Goff, professor of physics at the University of Lynchburg, takes us on a long tour to talk about the physics of the new World Cup ball. Every 4 years he analyzes the World Cup ball to see what has been achieved in it. Design focal point of the world’s most beautiful game.

Researchers have linked the effect of the Magnus phenomenon to the strange deviations of the ball (NASA)

History of World Cup balls

The use of an official ball in each of the FIFA World Cup tournaments has become an “official protocol”, as a specific ball and a specific design are allocated to each tournament separately.

In 1962, Adidas was chosen to be the main manufacturer of the World Cup balls, and tournament balls have been designed by the company from the 1970 World Cup until today.

In the beginning, the ball was made entirely of animal skin, but it was heavy, developed with successive tournaments and used high-quality raw materials and techniques, until it became lighter, more accurate and faster.

Most modern soccer balls consist of 12 panels of pentagonal and hexagonal panels, some of which consist of 32 panels, and polygons are used to form the shape of the ball closest to the circular shape, and the weight of the ball reaches between 410 and 450 grams, and inside is a rubber balloon that makes it possible to compress and bounce the ball.

The ball is usually tested by the International Federation of Football Associations (FIFA) before the start of the tournament, and the current ball has also been tested by robots and some experts and scientists for practical evaluation before the start of the World Cup final.

“The Journey” story

FIFA announced that the official ball used in the 2022 World Cup in Qatar was called “The Journey”, and the name was inspired by the culture, architecture, famous boats and flag of the State of Qatar, which is hosting the tournament. .

The “journey” is the 14th ball in the history of the FIFA World Cup Finals, and it has been designed with the principles of sustainability as a priority.

Its outer diaphragm is made of PU leather, which improves accuracy and stability in flight and swing, and its inner design provides speed and consistency of fast movement, with maximum air retention and recoil accuracy.

But the last thing competitors want is for the most important piece of the most important tournament in the world’s most popular sport to behave in predictable ways, so researchers put a lot of work into making sure each new World Cup ball feels familiar to players .

Dr.  Rabi Mehta uses smoke and lasers to inspect the flow pattern around an Adidas Brazuca football.  Credits: NASA's Ames Research Center
Interest in the World Cup prompted research centers such as NASA to study the aerodynamics of the ball (NASA).

From football to spaceships

The interest and growing public excitement about the World Cup has led major research centers such as NASA, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and others to study aerodynamics, which is a method that monitors the flow of air on the moving body of a ball , to be applied. to spacecraft, airplanes and even cars.

The researchers linked the effect of the Magnus phenomenon (a physical phenomenon that explains the deflection of footballs in an arc) and the strange deflections of the ball.

NASA uses the World Cup to provide an opportunity to explain the concepts of aerodynamics to students and individuals less familiar with the basics of aerodynamics.

Rabih Mehta, head of the Experimental Atmospheric Physics Branch at NASA’s Ames Research Center, said in a press release: “Sports provide a great opportunity to introduce the next generation of researchers to our field of aerodynamics by showing something that they can relate.”

Dr.  Rabi Mehta and Christina Ngo watch a test of a traditional 32-panel football scale model in the 17-inch water channel.  Flow patterns are visualized using fluorescent dye and black lights.  Credits: NASA's Ames Research Center
NASA uses the World Cup to provide an opportunity to explain the concepts of aerodynamics to students (NASA)

“flight” physics

“The Journey” contains 20 panels: 8 of them are small triangles with almost equal sides, and 12 are larger triangles, shaped like an “ice cream” cone.

To make the Trek’s ride stiffer and more aerodynamic, adidas placed small indentations in the surface.

Instead of using raised embellishments to increase surface roughness – as is the case with previous balls – the “travel” is coated with properties that give its surface a relatively smooth feel compared to its predecessors.

Japanese researchers tested the last four World Cup balls in a wind tunnel at the University of Tsukuba, and found that the “flight” has aerodynamic characteristics very similar to its predecessors, and can move a little faster.

When the airflow shifts from turbulent to laminar, the drag coefficient rises rapidly for the ball in flight, so that the ball experiences a sharp increase in drag and suddenly slows down.

It is noteworthy that the “trip” carries the slogan “Made in Egypt”, as 1,500 balls out of 6,000 balls for the tournament were produced in the city of Rubiki, Egypt, despite Egypt’s non-participation in the World Cup.

Although the ball is subject to scientific research and field experiments, the “journey” will be known to players in this year’s World Cup tournament.

Source : The conversation + Websites + NASA

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