Bad Astronomy

Super(bowl) science!

Well, it’s Super Bowl Sunday, and while I bet a lot of folks who read this blog are fans, I’m guessing a lot aren’t.

So I figured hey, why not take this chance to insert a little geekery into this normally overly-macho event? Something for the non-American-football-enthusiasts out there? So I pulled out my trusty HP 41CX calculator, grabbed a pencil and paper, and worked out some math and physics trivia based on the game. Over the next few hours I posted these facts on Twitter one by one, enjoying the comments I got on them. They’ve all been tweeted now, and I thought it might be helpful to post them all in one place for your nerdish enjoyment.


So here are your #AstroSuperBowl facts!


[Note: Regular readers know I usually use metric, but since the game is an American one, I used Imperial units. Also, 140 characters means being brief, so I left off the metric units.]

Are you ready for some football… SCIENCE?

  • On Jupiter, Pittsburgh Steeler QB Ben Roethlisberger would weigh 610 pounds. [Assuming he weighs 241 pounds, and the surface gravity at Jupiter’s cloud tops is about 2.5 times the Earth’s… and he doesn’t immediately plunge through the atmosphere and burn up as a meteor.]
  • On the other hand his opponent, Packers QB Aaron Rodgers, would weigh 557 pounds.
  • But then, on a neutron star Pittsburgh QB Roethlisberger would weigh 12 billion tons.
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  • Spinning a thrown football makes it act like a gyroscope, keeping it stable in flight.
  • The GB Packers may like it cold, but with temperatures of -300 F, Saturn’s moon Enceladus scoffs at them.
  • Commercial breaks during the Super Bowl would seem much shorter if you were near a black hole. [Assuming you were near a black hole and receiving a broadcast from Earth; this detail was too long to put in tweet form.]
  • Superbowls would be 248 Earth years apart on Pluto.
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  • An asteroid impactor the size of the football stadium would explode like 100s of 1-megaton bombs.
  • And assuming the game lasts 4 hours…

  • … during the game, a beam of light would travel about 2.7 billion miles: the distance to Neptune.
  • … during the game, the Sun will emit enough energy to supply the US for 30 billion years.
  • … during the game, the Earth will have moved 270,000 miles around the Sun.
  • And there you have it. And in the spirit of the game’s competition, I’ll add that you may consider yourself a nerd, but it takes an übernerd to make the Super bowl nerdy.