It was reported a few days ago that in order to resolve the so-called “Deflategate” controversy, the NFL’s investigators have been trying to enlist the support of physicists. The investigators apparently started asking the Columbia physics department for some help in figuring out whether or not the Patriots intentionally under-inflated some footballs at the AFC championship game.
While I applaud any news putting physics in a positive light (and it’s hard not to look good when compared to the NFL), I can’t help but be puzzled by this story. Surely it would be much easier just to buy a bunch of footballs and test them under similar conditions to the game. You don’t need to come up with a theoretical model of what happened when you can just replicate the conditions that you’re trying to investigate.