Sydney: Jabulani, the new ball created for the FIFA World Cup 2010, will play "harder and faster," bending more unpredictably than its predecessor, physics experts believe.
"The Jabulani is textured with small ridges and `aero grooves` and represents a radical departure from the ultra-smooth Teamgeist ball, which was used in the last World Cup," says Derek Leinweber, professor and head of the School of Chemistry & Physics, University of Adelaide (UA).
Leinweber has previously written about and lectured on the aerodynamics of cricket and golf balls and the 2006 World Cup soccer ball.
Along with student Adrian Kiratidis, who is studying for his Master of Philosophy (M.Phil) in physics, Leinweber has been reviewing the physics behind soccer balls and what that means for the Jabulani. Kiratidis is also a soccer enthusiast.
"While the governing body FIFA has strict regulations on the size and weight of the balls, they have no regulations about the outside surface of the balls," Leinweber says.
According to Leinweber, the Teamgeist was a big departure at the last World Cup. "Because it was very smooth - much smoother than a regular soccer ball - it had a tendency to bend more than the conventional ball and drop more suddenly at the end of its trajectory," the scientist says while talking about the previous World Cup ball.
"By comparison, the aerodynamic ridges on the Jabulani are likely to create enough turbulence around the ball to sustain its flight longer, and be a faster, harder ball in play," Leinweber says.
By the time the ball reaches the goalkeeper, the Jabulani will have swerved and dipped, arriving with more power and energy than the Teamgeist.
"The Jabulani is expected to `bend` more for the players than any ball previously encountered. Players are also discovering new opportunities to move the ball in erratic ways, alarming the world`s best goalkeepers," said Leinweber, according to an UA release.