Back in the day, it seemed like science teachers had to give athletes the hard sell on why their subjects were so cool. It’s nice to see that those days are long gone. Every year, millions of dollars are spent on scientific and technological advances for athletics. Inspiration for technological advancement is coming from all sorts of unexpected places. Here are some of our favorite technologies…
NASA teamed up with Johns Hopkins University to create a thermometer pill that records body temperatures in order to help monitor the health of astronauts in space. As it turns out, however, these pills could be the key to saving athletes’ lives. The second leading cause of death in athletes is heat exhaustion, and this pill could help trainers and coaches monitor their players’ internal temperatures.
Did you know that the feet of a 5 ounce gecko have the adhesive power to bear 9 pounds of weight on a wall without losing traction? A team of polymer scientists at University of Massachusetts Amherst were inspired to create a device called “Geckskin”, which can hold up to 700 pounds on a smooth vertical wall. Athletes everywhere are excited about the possibilities of using Geckskin for gloves, shoes, and more.
Scientists are working on developing an antimicrobial, water-resistant, fast-drying fabric that contains microscopic sensors. These tiny little computer microchips are able to monitor everything from hydration to heart rate to body temperature. This fabric containing microscopic computers isn’t the only innovative material in development. Many other fabrics are also in the works that will decrease friction, increase athletic efficiencies, and keep athletes comfortable.
While many arenas still have natural grass, venues are making the switch to synthetic turf. While there are many upkeep benefits to synthetic turf, there are also a number of safety benefits for athletes. Synthetic turf is smooth and even while natural turf can be bumpy, causing injury. Also, some newer synthetic turfs contain cooling technologies, which can keep turf up to 15 degrees lower than other turfs.
Space Foam Helmets
In the 1960s, NASA developed Temper Foam, which is a polyurethane foam that returns to its original form after compression. Today, this technology is used in modern football helmets to absorb shock instead of simply redirecting it.
These technological advancements are improving the lives of athletes all over the globe. Keep up the great work, STEM leaders!