Screwball Physics – The Magnus Effect in Football

Cover Screwball Physics


Secondary School

Physics, Mathematics

Football, Magnus Force

English, German, French, Spanish, Swedish, Hungarian, Polish, Czech

In June 1997, Roberto Carlos scored his infamous goal in a 35 m free kick with the ball first going off in one direction and then magically curling towards the goal. How did that happen?

The answer is that the ball was spinning in the air and was subjected to the Magnus force.

In the teaching unit ‚Screwball Physics‘ students are introduced to the influence of gravity, of the Magnus force and of the aerodynamic resistance on the trajectory of the ball. In simple experiments students simulate the trajectory of the ball with self prepared cylinders and analyse their rotation in free fall in air and under water with the aid of different mathematical models.

Authors: Anders Florén (SE), Philippe Jeanjacquot (FR), Dionysis Konstantinou (GR), Andreas Meier (DE), Corina Toma (RO), Zbigniew Trzmiel (PL)

The additional material for this unit is unfortunately only available in English. 

Teaching Materials

Screwball Physics

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Bananenflanke - DE

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Skruvad fysik - SWE

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Bláznivá fyzika - CZ

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Po(d)krecona fizyka - PL

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Un ballon qui a la banane! - FR

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Fisica con efecto - ESP

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Csavaros fizika - HU

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This unit is from: Football in Science Teaching

Phone: +49 30 400067-42

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