Physics Equation Developed to Explain Impossible Soccer Kick

At a 1997 soccer match, Roberto Carlos scored a goal against the French national team that seemed physically impossible. The ball seemed to curve around the French players. Physicists couldn't explain the ball's movement:

A group of French scientists, perhaps desperate to prove that at least the laws of physics weren’t actively rooting against their national team, have been able to figure out the trajectory of the ball and, with it, an equation to describe its unusual path.

It all comes down to the fact that, when a sphere spins, its trajectory is a spiral. Usually, gravity and the relatively short distance the ball travels cover up this spiral trajectory, but Carlos was a mere 115 feet away and kicked the ball hard enough to reveal its true spiral-like path. As you can see in the diagram above, the ball would have kept spiraling if gravity (and the netting) hadn’t gotten in the way.

At the link, you can see a video of the kick.

Link | Image: New Journal of Physics

Newest 5
Newest 5 Comments

As it has been said, this is lame, as anyone with common sense knows, spinning balls have curve trajectories, in pool, bowling, tennis, table tennis, etc.
Can't deny it is extremely hard to give it that kind of spin, and that shot is noteworthy anyway, but shame on the people talking about physical impossibility or trying to explain what is already obvious. It gives science a bad name, as science doesn't cover these silly topics.
Abusive comment hidden. (Show it anyway.)
Login to comment.

Email This Post to a Friend
"Physics Equation Developed to Explain Impossible Soccer Kick"

Separate multiple emails with a comma. Limit 5.


Success! Your email has been sent!

close window

This website uses cookies.

This website uses cookies to improve user experience. By using this website you consent to all cookies in accordance with our Privacy Policy.

I agree
Learn More