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This weekend is the Superbowl, Sunday, February 6, 2011 – 6:30pm ET. It’s the Pittsburgh Steelers  vs. Green Bay Packers. Like many busy people with a of couple jobs, I didn’t know anything about these teams and didn’t realize it was football season, but I admire the skill, dedication, and technology that goes into the game and the broadcasts. That said, last week’s State of the Union had an interesting quote from the president.

We need to teach our kids that it’s not just the winner of the Super Bowl who deserves to be celebrated, but the winner of the science fair.

OK, what can we do? Spend 20 minutes during the half-time show and showcase some national science fair winners? I don’t think force feeding some science during a sports game will help celebrate anything. We’ll just flip the channels waiting for some “crazy ad” we’ll all be talking about on Monday. Most people I know who are really into science, engineering, art, and design aren’t really into watching dudes smash each other between beer commercials. Alternatively, I don’t expect football fans to think about science fairs on game day either. Why should they? It’s football time.

There’s likely a way to bring the “science of the game” to a broader audience. The materials used for equipment are “space age” — the technology for the broadcast is intense. Overlays, tons of CGI, and live effects for portions — it’s all very cool and all made by very science-oriented people. But really, who cares?

I can’t imagine a nation celebrating Nobel Prize winners the same way we celebrate a football team, the USA does pretty well with winning many types of science awards, but the closest thing I can think of was the footage and stories I saw of the moon-landing astronauts after they got back.

For all the makers who are doing something besides watching the Super Bowl this weekend, post up in the comments: what are you doing? What are you celebrating? For the football fans, would you like to see some of the science tech of football? Is it a realistic goal to hope we celebrate science fair winners like Super Bowl teams?

Phillip Torrone

Editor at large – Make magazine. Creative director – Adafruit Industries, contributing editor – Popular Science. Previously: Founded – Hack-a-Day, how-to editor – Engadget, Director of product development – Fallon Worldwide, Technology Director – Braincraft.


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Comments

  1. Anonymous says:

    Me? I’m going to clean and tune up my bicycle, change the oil in the car, and make a decent dinner for the family. That might sound like drudgery to others, but not to me. I never had much interest in sports culture, and especially do not care to watch other people play sports on TV. Judging by the reactions I’ve gotten over my 30+ years of non-interest, I know for a fact that I’m very much in the minority. I have to agree with you, I don’t think we’ll ever reach a point where we celebrate technology and scientific innovations in the way that we celebrate athletes. We tend to celebrate the results and products of science and tech more than the people who make them. For example, Apple and wifi. People really enjoy their iphones and wireless internet and I’m sure they’d give those a parade with confetti, but they don’t really care about the people behind the scenes who made all that happen.

  2. BugmeNot says:

    Look nerds, I don’t understand what your nerd problem is with the Superbowl.

    Lets be honest, why should they let you ugly nerds on TV when most of you don’t even watch it. What advertiser is going to make awesome ads for Nerdbowl when all you nerd want to do is make things you can already buy. I know if I owned a TV station I wouldn’t let you nerds on TV, it would be bad for business.

    1. David Bell says:

      @BugsforBrains: Without nerds, you’d be trying to watch the stupid game in person, or at best, on a 12″ round, snowy B&W piece of crap. Enjoy your Bread and Circuses expo!

  3. BugmeNot says:

    Look nerds, I don’t understand what your nerd problem is with the Superbowl.

    Lets be honest, why should they let you ugly nerds on TV when most of you don’t even watch it. What advertiser is going to make awesome ads for Nerdbowl when all you nerd want to do is make things you can already buy. I know if I owned a TV station I wouldn’t let you nerds on TV, it would be bad for business.

  4. I’ll be working on my 555 timer based astrophotography mount. I think it would be possible to get people to celebrate scientists and engineers, but it would be a long process, and it would have to start with kids. One thing that could be done to celebrate science would be to show something like Carl Sagan’s “we are here” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2pfwY2TNehw) during the Superbowl. Unfortunately I doubt that anyone has the money to get it shown.

  5. I love football, and love to watch the Superbowl. The Saints victory last year was one of the best things I’ve seen on television. Though I love watching college hoops more, football has a special place in my heart.

    That said – from a technology standpoint, there are some pretty interesting things right now centering around preventing concussions. Numerous articles have abounded (one in the New Yorker an issue or two ago, I think – second in a series) discussing the permanent, irreversible, long-term damage of playing the game at any level. There’s been a mad rush of various technologies around protecting the neck and head.

    From what I’ve read so far, though, the science has been … to quote something I read recently (I can’t remember the source, probably from playing football, HAHA! ha…) … a lot of “science by press conference” instead of “science by peer review.” Obviously, the NFL is *paid*, and obviously people want a piece of that pie. But I’m curious if it’s a lot of hand-waving around the core issue – men are bashing each others heads in, and there’s no current cure.

    The commissioner made a big show about fining some players who were “hitting too hard” (I’m being glib). The players were understandably flabbergasted – they’re doing what they’ve been taught and trained to do. I enjoy watching, but my heart sinks when I see someone go down on the field, maybe to never get up again (rare, but still).

    I honestly am completely conflicted here. On the one hand, I think people should be able to do with their bodies whatever they like. If you were to tell me that I could provide for my entire family, extended down to grandchildren, and there was a 20% chance I’d get brain damage in my 40s and not live past 65, I’d still probably do it. On the other hand, maybe that’s a choice I get to make and others don’t. And maybe we should be past gladiatorial combat.

    Anyway, feel free to convince me either way – I’m game. But I have a question – these are athletes at the peak of physical form. What they are capable of is truly unimaginable (a 300+ pound dude running a 4.4 40 yard dash is just … amazing). What happens when one piece of technology (training of the human form) outstrips another (the ability to *protect* that human form)? Do we, as technology people, try to stop it? Or do we carefully go after the better mousetrap, even though people may be injured (or worse) while we figure it out?

  6. I love football, and love to watch the Superbowl. The Saints victory last year was one of the best things I’ve seen on television. Though I love watching college hoops more, football has a special place in my heart.

    That said – from a technology standpoint, there are some pretty interesting things right now centering around preventing concussions. Numerous articles have abounded (one in the New Yorker an issue or two ago, I think – second in a series) discussing the permanent, irreversible, long-term damage of playing the game at any level. There’s been a mad rush of various technologies around protecting the neck and head.

    From what I’ve read so far, though, the science has been … to quote something I read recently (I can’t remember the source, probably from playing football, HAHA! ha…) … a lot of “science by press conference” instead of “science by peer review.” Obviously, the NFL is *paid*, and obviously people want a piece of that pie. But I’m curious if it’s a lot of hand-waving around the core issue – men are bashing each others heads in, and there’s no current cure.

    The commissioner made a big show about fining some players who were “hitting too hard” (I’m being glib). The players were understandably flabbergasted – they’re doing what they’ve been taught and trained to do. I enjoy watching, but my heart sinks when I see someone go down on the field, maybe to never get up again (rare, but still).

    I honestly am completely conflicted here. On the one hand, I think people should be able to do with their bodies whatever they like. If you were to tell me that I could provide for my entire family, extended down to grandchildren, and there was a 20% chance I’d get brain damage in my 40s and not live past 65, I’d still probably do it. On the other hand, maybe that’s a choice I get to make and others don’t. And maybe we should be past gladiatorial combat.

    Anyway, feel free to convince me either way – I’m game. But I have a question – these are athletes at the peak of physical form. What they are capable of is truly unimaginable (a 300+ pound dude running a 4.4 40 yard dash is just … amazing). What happens when one piece of technology (training of the human form) outstrips another (the ability to *protect* that human form)? Do we, as technology people, try to stop it? Or do we carefully go after the better mousetrap, even though people may be injured (or worse) while we figure it out?

  7. Tom G says:

    How about drawing attention to the common, shared and overlapping interests of sport and science? Of art and science? Anyone can perpetuate the stereotypes, but what about promoting the renaissance sportsman? Isn’t a particle collision like a kickoff runback? Aren’t science investors similar to fantasy footballers?

  8. I just read in an article on SuperBowl trivia that the little shapes in the Steelers logo are hypocycloids. Steelers fans may want to celebrate this curve:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hypocycloid

  9. Becky Stern says:

    The first time I watched any of the Super Bowl was two years ago when I was living in Phoenix. The Cardinals were playing locally so there was a big to-do about town, and my friend was whipping up some Buffalo wings. The suburban grocery store traffic was enough to motivate the creation of our own ranch dressing, (recipe on CRAFT, ‘natch). This Sunday I’m working on a few DIY tutorials to get more folks making (namely my xbee door buzzer remote) and tidying the set for the next episode of Make: Live. =]

  10. Becky Stern says:

    The first time I watched any of the Super Bowl was two years ago when I was living in Phoenix. The Cardinals were playing locally so there was a big to-do about town, and my friend was whipping up some Buffalo wings. The suburban grocery store traffic was enough to motivate the creation of our own ranch dressing, (recipe on CRAFT, ‘natch). This Sunday I’m working on a few DIY tutorials to get more folks making (namely my xbee door buzzer remote) and tidying the set for the next episode of Make: Live. =]

  11. Tim Saylor says:

    I’ve spent the last few days building a “emercency documentation supplies” box for my hackerspace for people to use when they finish a project and want to put video up online. It’s styled like a fire extinguisher box for extra fun. I’ll probably finish it up today.

  12. Didn’t know it was superbowl sunday. Don’t have a TV. Today I rested, it’s my religion’s sabbath day, but yesterday I installed Ubuntu on an old Dell C600 laptop with a 20gig hard drive, partitioning it with 2 10gig partitions and setting it up to dual boot either Windoze 2000 or Ubuntu 10.10. Bliss.

  13. Just another working weekend for salaried IT …

    And, yes, I am grateful to have a job. I just want weekends off.

  14. Just another working weekend for salaried IT …

    And, yes, I am grateful to have a job. I just want weekends off.

  15. Just another working weekend for salaried IT …

    And, yes, I am grateful to have a job. I just want weekends off.

  16. Just another working weekend for salaried IT …

    And, yes, I am grateful to have a job. I just want weekends off.