Tuesday, May 11, 2010

We Are...


Finally, two of my favorite things, together at last, science and Penn State Football.  Anyone who has ever been to PSU's Beaver Stadium knows that it can get pretty loud.  So loud, in fact, that the fans dress in white to add a visual effect to all the white noise that is now known as the "Penn State White Out".  Visiting quarterbacks have a tough time calling plays on the field, and the effect of this home field advantage can be seen pretty readily in the team's record over the past several years: Since 2005, the Nittanny Lions have won 32 games at home and lost only 4 (while their record on the road is 22 and 9).  Now, a graduate student at Penn State has mapped the acoustical properties of the stadium and figured out a way to make the roar of the cheering fans almost 50 percent louder down on the field.  You can read about it here or here.
And if you were wondering why an overall increase in volume wouldn't hurt the home team just as much as the visiting team, the answer is because the fans tend to be less noisy when the home team has the ball... so there still might be an effect, but hopefully it will be more pronounced on the visiting team.

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