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The math behind Michael Jordan’s legendary hang time - Andy Peterson and Zack Patterson


19,176 Questions Answered

TEDEd Animation

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Michael Jordan’s legendary slam dunk from the free throw line has been calculated at 0.92 seconds of pure hang time. But how many seconds could Jordan have gotten were he doing the same jump on Mars? Or Jupiter? Andy Peterson and Zack Patterson share the math equation behind hang time.

Additional Resources for you to Explore

You can further investigate the mathematics behind hang time on Earth, other bodies in the solar system and maybe even some places a bit more “Looney Tunes” using these Hungry Teacher Lessons: Hang TimeSpace Jam and In Sync.

Love the application of Physics to the real world and everyday life? Visit: Real World Physics Problems to find out more! Sport Science also provides a great video on Hang Time with Jordan Farmer! Prepare to be amazed! Science Friday’s Physics of Basketball addresses the forces acting on the ball! Watch and become a better basketball player! Hang time, layups, backspin and buoyant force sound enthralling? Galileo Got Game: 5 Things You Didn’t Know About The Physics of Basketball offers advice on these topics, short video clips and sketches. Visit the site to find out more! Watch this video and try to predict whether the ball will make it in the hoop. John Fontanella, author of the Physics of Basketball offers his insights into the sport on Talk of the Nation at NPR. Listen to his interview.

Want more about sports, gravity, angular momentum and all things physics? For more on Physics and pro football, visit Scientific American’s The Science of NFL Football and NBC Learn! Exploratorium’s Sport Science also discusses the Physics of Baseball, Surfing, Skateboarding and Hockey. Finally, visit the New York Times Learning Network for the lesson: Getting Physical: the Physics and Other science Behind the inter Olympic Sports. Be sure to check out all the links provided in this lesson for even more material. If you love sports you will definitely find something of interest.

If you learn equations well enough, you can use them to draw! Here are some examples of combinations of equations, that, when graphed together, produce amusing results. Speaking of entertainment and math, you can use math to predict the trajectory of Super Mario's jump.

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TED-Ed Animations feature the words and ideas of educators brought to life by professional animators. Are you an educator or animator interested in creating a TED-Ed Animation? Nominate yourself here »

Meet The Creators

  • Educator Zack Patterson, Andy Peterson
  • Director Jon Portman
  • Animator Devin Renca
  • Script Editor Alex Gendler
  • Illustrator Jackson Tupper
  • Narrator Addison Anderson

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