Edward Willett


A modest proposal (for the complete overhaul of the legislative process)

Back in high school, I was a debater...kind of. I say kind of, because like football, debate was something I did for only one year. (What, you don’t think football players usually end up on the debate team? Then you didn’t go to a small enough school.) I don’t know that I was a very good football player, although we did have a very successful team the one year I played (center: I couldn’t catch and I couldn’t run, but I could snap the ball and I was big and rather enjoyed running into people), but I seem to have been a pretty good debater. I jumped straight into the Open ...

Posted by Edward Willett at 7:55, December 5th, 2012 under Blog | Comment now »

The thrill of victory depends on the fear of the agony of defeat

[podcast]https://edwardwillett.com/wp-content/upLoads//2009/11/Sports-Emotions.mp3[/podcast] The Saskatchewan Roughriders play the Calgary Stampeders in the Canadian Football League’s Western Final this Sunday. That simple declarative sentence contains a novel’s worth of angst for fans of the Riders (and possibly for fans the Stampeders, too, but I can’t speak about that, not being one of those LOSERS!...oops, sorry, did I type that out loud?). Roughrider fans, often said to be the greatest in the country, are passionate about their team. They want them to win. They really, really want them to win. (Please, God, let them win!) And yet, deep down, they fully expect them to lose. This, science tells us, is precisely why they enjoy watching the Riders play so much. A new study from Ohio State University has found that ...

Posted by Edward Willett at 9:51, November 20th, 2009 under Blog, Columns, Science Columns | 1 Comment »


Acoustics have been on my mind recently, and not just because of (as some might suggest) the echoing empty space between my ears.First came the CFL Western semi-final game at Mosaic Stadium, where noise, reflected and focused by the stands, played at least some role in the Riders’ victory—and utterly failed to carry from the halftime stage in the end zone to our seats near mid-field. (It doesn’t seem to matter where they place the stage, either: the sound was just as bad at halftime at the last Grey Cup Regina hosted.)The acoustics of B.C. Place were in the news the following weekend, and crowd noise at Rogers Place in Toronto got mentioned more than once ...

Posted by Edward Willett at 17:53, November 26th, 2007 under Blog, Science Columns | Comment now »

Photo of the Day: The Kickoff

Kick-off for tonight's Canadian Football League game between the Saskatchewan Roughriders and B.C. Lions, as captured by my cellphone camera:Unfortunately, this was as close to winning as the Riders were all night.More (and better) photos here.

Posted by Edward Willett at 5:46, July 14th, 2007 under Blog | Comment now »

Football physics

This Sunday in Vancouver, thousands of people will gather to watch an impressive demonstration of momentum, mass, drag and other basic physics provided by highly trained specialists from Hamilton and Calgary.  This scientific exposition is called "the Grey Cup." One interesting demonstration will be the forward pass.  A football moving through the air has inertia--the universal tendency of objects in motion to remain in motion (and objects at rest to remain at rest).  If not for gravity and air resistance, it would simply sail away in a straight line and never come down. Gravity, however, pulls the ball down from the moment it leaves the quarterback's hand.  The quarterback's goal is to balance the ...

Posted by Edward Willett at 22:39, November 24th, 1999 under Blog, Columns, Science Columns | Comment now »


The Grey Cup in Regina is over. You could tell the day after the game by the number of people wandering around with dazed expressions and bags under their eyes...which inspired me to write this week about two souvenirs of the festivities almost everyone picked up: fatigue and/or a hangover. Fatigue is characterized by an inability to perform tasks as well as usual, and it comes in many different types. There's muscle fatigue: hard use of muscles results in a build-up of lactic acid and a familiar aching feeling that eventually becomes pain and results in an inability of the muscles to perform as you'd like them to. Mental fatigue results from hard ...

Posted by Edward Willett at 11:25, November 20th, 1995 under Blog, Columns, Science Columns | Comment now »

Footballs in flight

In case you haven't heard, there's a little football game being played over at Taylor Field next Sunday between a team from Calgary and a team from Baltimore. Canadian football is known as a pass-happy game, so I thought I'd delve into the aerodynamics of a flying football. Football aerodynamics, however, isn't something you just look up in an encyclopedia. Instead, I got on the World Wide Web, did a search for "football" and "aerodynamics," and immediately came up with Dr. Peter Lissaman, Adjunct Professor of Aerodynamics at the University of Southern California and one of the world's leading experts in the aerodynamics of spinning objects. (In fact, he just recently gave a ...

Posted by Edward Willett at 22:38, November 13th, 1995 under Blog, Columns, Science Columns | 2 Comments »