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

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Random House Publishing Group, Nov 19, 2013 - Sports & Recreation - 272 pages
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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


From the Hardcover edition.
 

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

User Review  - John Maxymuk - Book Verdict

St. John (columnist, Skiing magazine; Skiing for Dummies) and self-described "science evangelist" Ramirez (formerly mechanical engineering, Yale Univ.) offer a history of the evolution of football as ... Read full review

NEWTON'S FOOTBALL: The Science Behind America's Game

User Review  - Jane Doe - Kirkus

Journalist St. John (Clapton's Guitar: Watching Wayne Henderson Build the Perfect Instrument, 2005, etc.) and former Yale engineering professor Ramirez (Save Our Science: How to Inspire a New ... Read full review

Contents

INTRODUCTION
THE PAST
GRAHAM
THE GAME
HOW IS A QUARTERBACK LIKE YOUR LAPTOP?
THE PLAYERS
THEFUTURE
DESPERATION PLUS INSPIRATION EQUALS 16632
SHOULD THE NFL BAN HELMETS?
FOOTBALL GLOSSARY
Dedication
Notes
Copyright

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About the author (2013)

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.


From the Hardcover edition.

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