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Gliding for Gold

, 200 pages

34 halftones, 45 line drawings

October 2011



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Gliding for Gold

The Physics of Winter Sports

As anyone from cold climates knows, living with lots of ice and snow can lead to a special appreciation of sports such as skiing, sledding, and skating. Prolific physics popularizer Mark Denny’s take on winter athletics lays out the physical principles that govern glaciated game play.

After discussing the physical properties of ice and snow and describing the physics behind sliding friction and aerodynamic drag, Denny applies these concepts to such sports as bobsledding, snowboarding, and curling. He explains why clap skates would only hinder hockey players, how a curling rock curls, the forces that control luge speed, and how steering differs from skiing to snowboarding. With characteristic accuracy and a touch of wit, Denny provides fans, competitors, and coaches with handy, applicable insights into the games they love. The separate section of technical notes offers an original and mathematically rigorous exploration of the key aspects of winter sports physics.

A physics-driven exploration of sports played on ice and snow that is truly fun and informative, Gliding for Gold is the perfect primer for understanding the science behind cold weather athletics.

After earning a Ph.D. in theoretical physics from Edinburgh University, Mark Denny pursued research at Oxford University from 1981 to 1984, and then moved into a career in industry. Now semi-retired, he has written a number of popular science books, including Their Arrows Will Darken the Sun: The Evolution and Science of Ballistics; Super Structures: The Science of Bridges, Buildings, Dams, and Other Feats of Engineering; and Froth!: The Science of Beer, all published by Johns Hopkins.

"One of the best [books on snow sports] I've ever read."

"From snowboarding to curling and skating, this places physics explanations in the world of sports and offers fans and competitors alike a solid understanding of the physics of sports."

"Denny, a theoretical physicist and popular science writer provides an enthusiastic, almost breezy tour of the rules, art, and science of skating, hockey, curling, skiing, and snowboarding... For the scientifically inclined reader it provides an interesting window on the science of winter sports."

"Both travel and science collections will find it packed with lively history, cultural observations, and fun insights."

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