Newton's Football: The Science Behind America's Game

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Newton's Football: The Science Behind America's Game

by Ainissa G. Ramirez, Allen St. John

Random House Publishing Group | November 19, 2013 | Hardcover |

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In the bestselling tradition of Freakonomics and Scorecasting comes a clever and accessible look at the big ideas underlying the science of football. 
 
Did you hear the one about the MacArthur genius physicist and the NFL coach? It's not a joke. It's actually an innovative way to understand chaos theory, and the remarkable complexity of modern professional football.
 
In Newton's Football, journalist and New York Times bestselling author Allen St. John and TED Speaker and former Yale professor Ainissa Ramirez explore the unexpected science behind America's Game. Whether it's Jerry Rice finding the common ground between quantum physics and the West Coast offense or an Ivy League biologist explaining-at a granular level-exactly how a Big Mac morphs into an outside linebacker, Newton's Football illuminates football-and science-through funny, insightful stories told by some of the world's sharpest minds.
 
With a clear-eyed empirical approach-and an exuberant affection for the game-St. John and Ramirez address topics that have long beguiled scientists and football fans alike, including:
 
• the unlikely evolution of the football (or, as they put it, "The Divinely Random Bounce of the Prolate Spheroid")
• what Vince Lombardi has in common with Isaac Newton
• how the hardwired behavior of monkeys can explain a head coach's reluctance to go for it on fourth-down
• why a gruesome elevator accident jump-started the evolution of placekicking
• how Teddy Roosevelt saved football using the same behavioral science concept that Dreamworks would use to save Shrek
• why woodpeckers don't get concussions
• how better helmets actually made the game more dangerous
 
Every Sunday the NFL shares a secret with only its savviest fans: The game isn't just a clash of bodies, it's a clash of ideas. The greatest minds in football have always possessed an instinctual grasp of science, understanding the big ideas and gritty realities that inform the game's rich past, as well as its increasingly uncertain future.
 
Blending smart reporting, counterintuitive creativity, and compelling narrative, Newton's Football takes gridiron analysis to the next level, giving fans a book that entertains, enlightens, and explains the game anew.

Praise for Newton's Football
 
"It was with great interest that I read Newton's Football. I'm a fan of applying of science to sport and Newton's Football truly delivers. The stories are as engaging as they are informative. This is a great read for all football fans."-Mark Cuban

"A delightfully improbable book putting science nerds and sports fans on the same page."-Booklist
 
"This breezily-written but informative book should pique the interest of any serious football fan in the twenty-first century."-The American Spectator
 
"The authors have done a worthy job of combining popular science and sports into a work that features enough expertise on each topic to satisfy nerds and jocks alike. . . . The writers succeed in their task thanks to in-depth scientific knowledge, a wonderful grasp of football's past and present, interviews with a wide array of experts, and witty prose. . . . [Newton's Football is] fun and thought-provoking, proving that football is a mind game as much as it is a ball game."-Publishers Weekly

Format: Hardcover

Dimensions: 272 Pages, 6.3 × 9.45 × 0.79 in

Published: November 19, 2013

Publisher: Random House Publishing Group

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0345545141

ISBN - 13: 9780345545145

Found in: Sports and Fitness

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– More About This Product –

Newton's Football: The Science Behind America's Game

Newton's Football: The Science Behind America's Game

by Ainissa G. Ramirez, Allen St. John

Format: Hardcover

Dimensions: 272 Pages, 6.3 × 9.45 × 0.79 in

Published: November 19, 2013

Publisher: Random House Publishing Group

Language: English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10: 0345545141

ISBN - 13: 9780345545145

Read from the Book

Chapter 1 The Divinely Random Bounce of the Prolate Spheroid DeSean Jackson panicked. The Philadelphia Eagles Pro Bowl kick returner was standing at his own 35-yard line on a chilly December afternoon at newly opened MetLife Stadium in the New Jersey Meadowlands, but the last thing that he expected was the ball. The plan was simple. New York Giants punter Matt Dodge was going to kick the ball away from Jackson and out of bounds. That might give the Eagles just enough time to throw a Hail Mary into the end zone, allowing the Giants a chance to regroup as this wild game, in which the Eagles had come back from a 24–3 deficit to tie the score at 31, went into overtime. And then the prolate spheroid did its thing. A bad snap almost fluttered over Dodge’s head. Dodge reined the ball in, and his plan was to make contact with the ball just off center and send it toward the sideline, away from Jackson. But Dodge hit it on center, just an inch or two away from where he intended. So instead of lofting harmlessly out of bounds, the ball made a beeline for Jackson. The Eagles ace return man couldn’t quite believe what he was seeing. He watched the ball drop, wobbling like a dying quail. The quivering punt was falling to earth just a little short of where Jackson expected it, and instead of taking a step to get under the ball the way his coaches taught him in Pop Warner football, Jackson reached out for it. Starting to run before he had full possession of the ball, DeSean
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From the Publisher

In the bestselling tradition of Freakonomics and Scorecasting comes a clever and accessible look at the big ideas underlying the science of football. 
 
Did you hear the one about the MacArthur genius physicist and the NFL coach? It's not a joke. It's actually an innovative way to understand chaos theory, and the remarkable complexity of modern professional football.
 
In Newton's Football, journalist and New York Times bestselling author Allen St. John and TED Speaker and former Yale professor Ainissa Ramirez explore the unexpected science behind America's Game. Whether it's Jerry Rice finding the common ground between quantum physics and the West Coast offense or an Ivy League biologist explaining-at a granular level-exactly how a Big Mac morphs into an outside linebacker, Newton's Football illuminates football-and science-through funny, insightful stories told by some of the world's sharpest minds.
 
With a clear-eyed empirical approach-and an exuberant affection for the game-St. John and Ramirez address topics that have long beguiled scientists and football fans alike, including:
 
• the unlikely evolution of the football (or, as they put it, "The Divinely Random Bounce of the Prolate Spheroid")
• what Vince Lombardi has in common with Isaac Newton
• how the hardwired behavior of monkeys can explain a head coach's reluctance to go for it on fourth-down
• why a gruesome elevator accident jump-started the evolution of placekicking
• how Teddy Roosevelt saved football using the same behavioral science concept that Dreamworks would use to save Shrek
• why woodpeckers don't get concussions
• how better helmets actually made the game more dangerous
 
Every Sunday the NFL shares a secret with only its savviest fans: The game isn't just a clash of bodies, it's a clash of ideas. The greatest minds in football have always possessed an instinctual grasp of science, understanding the big ideas and gritty realities that inform the game's rich past, as well as its increasingly uncertain future.
 
Blending smart reporting, counterintuitive creativity, and compelling narrative, Newton's Football takes gridiron analysis to the next level, giving fans a book that entertains, enlightens, and explains the game anew.

Praise for Newton's Football
 
"It was with great interest that I read Newton's Football. I'm a fan of applying of science to sport and Newton's Football truly delivers. The stories are as engaging as they are informative. This is a great read for all football fans."-Mark Cuban

"A delightfully improbable book putting science nerds and sports fans on the same page."-Booklist
 
"This breezily-written but informative book should pique the interest of any serious football fan in the twenty-first century."-The American Spectator
 
"The authors have done a worthy job of combining popular science and sports into a work that features enough expertise on each topic to satisfy nerds and jocks alike. . . . The writers succeed in their task thanks to in-depth scientific knowledge, a wonderful grasp of football's past and present, interviews with a wide array of experts, and witty prose. . . . [Newton's Football is] fun and thought-provoking, proving that football is a mind game as much as it is a ball game."-Publishers Weekly

About the Author

An award-winning journalist, Allen St. John is the author of seven books, including The Billion Dollar Game and Clapton's Guitar, and co-author of The Mad Dog 100. He has written for The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times Magazine, U.S. News & World Report, Men''s Journal, Maxim, Playboy, Rolling Stone, The Village Voice, Esquire.com, theatlantic.com, and Salon.com, and he blogs for Forbes.com. His work has been featured in The Best American Sports Writing. A graduate of the University of Chicago, he lives in Montclair, New Jersey, with his family.
 
Ainissa G. Ramirez, Ph.D., is dedicated to making science fun for people of all ages. She is the author of the TED Book Save Our Science, based on her TED talk on improving science education. She has also been an engineering professor at Yale University. She received her Ph.D. from Stanford University in materials science and engineering and holds several patents, one of which was awarded MIT's top 100 young innovators award.

Editorial Reviews

“It was with great interest that I read Newton’s Football . I’m a fan of applying of science to sport and Newton’s Football truly delivers. The stories are as engaging as they are informative. This is a great read for all football fans.” —Mark Cuban “A delightfully improbable book putting science nerds and sports fans on the same page.” — Booklist   “This breezily-written but informative book should pique the interest of any serious football fan in the twenty-first century.” — The American Spectator   “The authors have done a worthy job of combining popular science and sports into a work that features enough expertise on each topic to satisfy nerds and jocks alike. . . . The writers succeed in their task thanks to in-depth scientific knowledge, a wonderful grasp of football’s past and present, interviews with a wide array of experts, and witty prose. . . . [ Newton’s Football is] fun and thought-provoking, proving that football is a mind game as much as it is a ball game.” — Publishers Weekly   “Journalist St. John and former Yale engineering professor Ramirez use scientific principles to give a greater understanding of the spectacle of competitive violence that is American professional football. . . . What makes this book so enjoyable is the authors’ revealing of how academic disciplines such as Boolean algebra and paleontology are present in such
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