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Everyday science

Physics of ski jackets, the eerie sound of thin ice, how figure skaters linger in mid-air

09 Feb 2018 Hamish Johnston


By Michael Banks and Hamish Johnston

Probably with an eye on the Winter Olympics, which starts today, two firms have just released new ranges of high-tech ski jackets. The Swiss technology business Osmotex and the Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology premiered their new ski jacket at the sport and sportwear international (ISPO) trade fair in Munich. It contains an “electro-osmotic” membrane called HYDRO_BOT in the fabric so that when membrane is switched on with a conventional battery it speeds up the transfer of salt ions across the membrane, taking them away from your sweaty skin. The creators claim it can pump out 10 litres of liquid per square metre per hour. For more details, see the video above.

Not to be outdone, the UK firm Directa Plus, which makes graphene-based products, has teamed up with the Italian sportswear company Colmar to produce 31 garments — including jackets and trousers — that include graphene in the textiles. Directa Plus says that the graphene helps to better distribute heat produced by the body in wintry weather as well as boost anti-odour features allowing for “enhanced comfort”. The firm also unveiled their wares at the ISPO, and while the price has not been announced, Colmar jackets usually go for around £600. So start saving now.


There is nothing in the world like skating on a frozen lake with the silence broken by the breeze whispering past. In the above video, the Swedish mathematician Mårten Ajne skates on thin ice while the filmmaker Henrik Trygg captures the sights – and especially the eerie sounds come from the thin ice as it buckles and vibrates under Ajne’s weight.

Staying out on the ice, has a nice article about the physics of figure skating by Evelyn Lamb. The article covers the basics of centre of mass and moment of inertia and Lamb also speaks to James Richards, a professor of kinesiology and applied physiology, for a more in-depth analysis of how figure skaters can spend so much time in the air.

Related journal articles from IOPscience


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