Dr. Tim Gay     

University of Nebraska   

"One Atom Too Many: An Atomic Physicist's Attempt To Learn About Simple Homonuclear Diatomic Molecules"

When a polarized electron collides with an atom, it can transfer its spin to the residual target. This angular momentum can subsequently be partitioned among the various atomic angular momenta nuclear and electronic spin and electronic orbital angular momentum. The way in which this happens can provide important details about the collision dynamics. Molecular targets complicate this picture, because they have another "reservoir" into which the angular momentum can go: nuclear rotation. Recent experiments involving collisions of spinning electrons and photons with molecules have produced some surprising new results, even thought the molecular targets are the simplest available -- homonuclear diatomics. New directions for experiments, for those with enough intestinal fortitude to consider further work with molecular targets, will be proposed.

"The Physics of Football"

This talk discusses a series of one-minute physics lectures given to the ~ 8 x 104 fans that attend the University of Nebraska home football games. The lecture topics range from gyroscopic motion to ionizing collisions between linebackers and I-backs. The problem of simultaneous edification and amusement of the fan in the stands is considered.

From 1999 until 2004, Tim Gay, a Professor of Physics at the University of Nebraska - Lincoln, taught the largest physics class in the world – the 78,000 fans that attend the University of Nebraska Cornhuskers home football games in Memorial Stadium. During a pause in the action, Gay’s lessons were shown on the giant television screens at either end of the field. They ranged in length from forty-five seconds to two minutes, and covered such topics as Newton’s Laws of Motion (blocking and tackling), projectile motion (kicking and punting), kinematics (open-field running), and the ideal gas law (why not fill the football with helium to get better hangtime?). Laboratory demonstrations featured Professor Gay being tackled by 370 pound lineman, pummeled with a sledgehammer as he lay on a bed of nails, and learning the finer points of passing from Heisman trophy winner Eric Crouch.

Gay’s work has been featured on ABC World News Tonight with Peter Jennings, ESPN’s Cold Pizza, and front page stories in the Wall Street Journal and the Tuesday Science section of the New York Times, as well as in People Magazine, ESPN Magazine, the Boston Globe, the Washington Post, and a variety of other television and radio outlets.

In 2001, Gay was hired by NFL Films to write and appear in a series of 5-minute television segments for their show NFL Blast! Blast! is a half-hour program shown in 190 foreign countries to familiarize its audience with the game of American football. The Football Physics segments on the show feature lectures and demonstrations by Gay and interviews with current NFL players. These segments aired starting in 2002, and ran through 2004.

Gay has also written a book, Football Physics, published by Rodale. It recently came out in a second edition retitled The Physics of Football published by Harper-Collins Paperbacks. Its target audience is high school students and football fans of all ages.

The Nebraska segments can be viewed on the Web: