If you’re not quite finished reading about Deflategate—and really, who is? T minus 51 hours til kickoff—there’s this new look at the evidence: Thomas Healy, a Pats fan and Carnegie Mellon grad student in mechanical engineering, wrote a scientific paper explaining that the deflation of footballs can be caused by environmental and weather factors—and MIT physics professor Max Tegmark endorsed it.
When Healy provided the New York Times with an advance copy of his paper, Tegmark agreed that Healy’s analysis “looks solid” after reviewing it.
Healy’s approach is to correct an error in calculations made by other physicists who were asked to weigh in. Said physicists used what’s referred to as the “ideal gas law.” Instead, Healy simply measured the change in air pressure when the football was moved from a room that was 75 degrees to one that was 50 degrees. According to the New York Times:
In the experiment, the deflation of the footballs was close to the larger, correctly calculated value. When Healy moistened the balls to mimic the effects of the rainy weather that day, the pressure dropped even further, close to the deflation of 2 pounds per square inch that the N.F.L. is believed to have found.
The below photo tweeted by NYT contains some of the equations from Healy’s paper.
— The New York Times (@nytimes) January 30, 2015
“To me, their measurements mean that there’s no evidence of foul play,” Tegmark told the NYT.
Healy’s paper concludes that a routine walk from the warm, sweaty locker room to Gillette’s chilly field could be responsible for the deflated footballs. If accurate, it’s an obvious upside for the Pats, not to mention another talking point for those among us who’ve hit peak armchair-commentator status by tossing out equations from high school science class.
But as of now, of course, nothing is set in stone. While the NFL’s “thorough and objective” investigation is ongoing, we’ll have to see if Healy’s explanation is accepted or even referenced by the NFL. For the time being, add Healy and Tegmark to the roster of people who’ve said what we wanted to hear (and obviously knew all along): the Patriots can do no wrong.
Source URL: https://www.bostonmagazine.com/news/2015/01/30/mit-professer-confirms-deflategate-is-a-bust/
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