Deflategate Reaches HPC

Scientists model the fingerprints on a football to determine if 2psi is enough to make a difference.

The deflated football scandal that has enthralled US sports fans for the past several weeks is also starting to enthrall the HPC community. The scandal transpired after the AFC championship football game on January 18 between the New England Patriots and the Indianapolis Colts, when it was determined that the footballs used by the Patriots were below the league minimum inflation. In a recent post at the ANSYS website, ANSYS Director of Product Management Barry Christenson describes a study performed by the ANSYS AIM simulation environment to determine if a change of pressure form 12.5 psi to 10.5 psi will actually make the ball easier to throw or catch.
According to the report, “… we modeled the pressure points of a human hand on the exterior of a football that represents a throwing configuration and force. This allowed us to simulate the difference in deformation that a 2psi pressure would create. The result? Not much. The difference in deformation between the two pressures was less that 1mm, keeping the quarterback’s ‘squeeze’ imprint at roughly 5mm. The same applied to a receiver’s catch. In a world of players wearing tacky rubberized football gloves, the ‘softness’ difference is negligible.”
While they had the model up and running, the ANSYS team also looked at the aerodynamics of a football spiraling in flight and determined that a wobbly football thrown at just 10 degrees off its axis has 20% more drag.
Some of the comments after the post indicate that more work needs to be done, or at least, more needs to be written, asking “What is the Reynold’s number? And is it a RANS, LES, DES, or DNS calculation? And how is the texture of the ball modeled?”
Lest they be accused of bias, the ANSYS teams points out their office is based outside of Pittsburgh, so they don’t favor the Patriots and are, instead, Pittsburgh Steelers fans.