Neil deGrasse Tyson Explains How NASCAR Drivers Push Limits Of Physics

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When most people hear the term “NASCAR,” they think about 40 cars racing wheel-to-wheel at high speeds. Neil deGrasse Tyson, however, imagines 40 drivers pushing the boundaries of physics.

The astrophysicist revealed Wednesday that an episode of his 2014 docuseries, “Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey,” was bumped so that FOX could air the Coca-Cola 600. So deGrasse Tyson, rather than pout about it, decided to post a series of tweets, enlightening people about the real-life physics experiment they were watching during his show’s usual time slot.

As informative as his posts were, however, it’s impossible to give a complete science lesson with Twitter’s 140-character limit — or even with its new 280-character limit. As a result, deGrasse Tyson spent time during the latest edition of his weekly podcast, “StarTalk,” to offer more insight on the science of stock-car racing.

Arguably the most interesting takeaway from the NASCAR-themed “StarTalk” is that, lap after lap, deGrasse Tyson actually witnessed drivers cornering at 165 mph — the maximum speed he calculated that they can carry through the banked turns at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Even though teams have highly trained engineers that make those calculations before they get to the track, racing drivers’ car control is so super-human that they likely could figure it out on their own after a few laps.

The entire NASCAR segment from the most recent “StarTalk” episode is posted on Mashable.

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