Physicist explains the science behind ‘Deflategate’

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

NEW BRITAIN -- It's had its hashtag for days, but now reports say the NFL has determined that "Deflategate" is real.

The New England Patriots are accused of using under-pressurized footballs in their playoff game against the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday. Sports nuts say that gave quarterback Tom Brady an advantage.

Fox CT spoke with Central Connecticut University physics professor Sadu Nanjundiah, who can explain why less air-filled balls make a difference.

"It's actually the surface of the hand and the ball that makes a huge difference," he said. "So the flatter, which means, some air has been let out, then you can grab it easier."

Nanjundiah said that would not help Brady's passing plays.

"It should be rounder because it would spiral better, it would carry better because the wind would actually lift it," he said, adding that a deflated ball would amp up the Pats' ground game.  "Grabbing the ball and running with it would be easier--if you remember the game, there were lots of touchdowns but they were running touchdowns."

Nanjundiah admits he is a Giants fan and says "Deflategate" could have been a natural occurrence.

The pressure might have dropped between the time someone filled the balls and when they were used during the cold, rainy game he said, citing the ideal gas law.

"I worked it out and the amount it drops from approximately the temperature inside, which is a nice 77 Fahrenheit to about 32 Fahrenheit, which is probably a little colder than it was on game day, I would say it would drop,maybe at the most, one pound per square inch," Nanjundiah told Fox CT.

Even so, he said the science doesn't add up to explain the alleged two-pound inflation discrepancy.

"Hopefully they release the information and if I see that the pressure was decreased was more than this temperature drop indicates, I would say, yea, somebody did this," Nanjundiah said.

So far, the NFL has only publicly confirmed that it is investigating "Deflategate" allegations.

Related Stories:

Amid deflate-gate scandal, Patriots Coach Bill Belichick will speak out Thursday

11 of 12 Patriots’ game balls were underinflated: Reports

The Patriots win is local businesses’ gain