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Curling brush research (studies of Olympian sports technology)

With the curling competitions at the 2014 Winter Olympics about to get underway, what better time to look at the work of Brett A. Marmo, Mark-Paul Buckingham, and Jane R. Blackford of the School of Engineering & Electronics and the Centre for Materials Science & Engineering, at The University of Edinburgh, UK, who have performed a series of empirical studies into the methodology, physics and game-implications of ‘sweeping’ in front of a moving granite curling stone (a.k.a. rock)?

In the first instance, see : ‘Design and use of an instrumented curling brush’ (in: Proceedings of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Part L: Journal of Materials Design and Applications, 2006, 220). The team designed and implemented a purpose built ‘sweep ergometer’ (prototype pictured right) in order to perform a quantitative measurement of the sweeping technique – believed to be the first time since the game’s invention. The energy-measuring brush was subsequently used in (at least) two further studies : ‘Optimising Sweeping Techniques for Olympic Curlers’  (In: The Engineering of Sport, 6, 2006, pp 249-254). And, (along with colleague I.S. Farrow) ‘Frictional heat generated by sweeping in curling and its effect on ice friction’ (in: Proceedings of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Part L: Journal of Materials: Design and Applications, October 1, 2006 vol. 220 no. 4 189-197)

BONUS (related) A video from the Friends of Canadian Institutes of Health Research, featuring Dr. Jim Till : “The Physics of Curling: Does Sweeping Matter?”

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