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Mysterious Coin Flip Magic

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esmith

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Prior to the beginning of overtime in last weekend's Packers v. Cardinals game, referee Clete Blakeman (definitely sounds like a fake name) attempted to flip the coin. Except he didn't. The coin did not flip at all. This prompted an outburst from Packers quarterback and insurance salesman Aaron Rodgers, who demanded a reflip. Blakeman obliged and the Packers subsequently lost. But how does a professional who has likely flipped hundreds of coins in his lifetime manage to screw up like this? Excluding potential sabotage, the only explanation for the lack of a flip is physics. A coin is flipped by exerting torque on one side of the coin and creating rotational acceleration. This allows the coin to spin through the air like some sort of spinning thing going through some other kind of thing. However, if the force is applied directly at the center of the coin, there will be no torque as the distance from the axis of rotation is zero. Therefore, the coin will not flip and everyone will be upset. But there is another factor as well. The coin used was comically over-sized and, based on the NFL's wealth, made of Lil' Wayne's melted-down teeth. This gave the coin a much higher mass and radius and therefore moment of inertia. An object with a high moment of inertia is more difficult to accelerate. This allowed Blakeman to be just a little off from the center of the coin and still have the torque be negligible. Clearly, Blakeman is both a physicist and a Cardinals fan.   

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