Speaker: Diandra Leslie-Pelecky
Abstract: A group of racecars piloted by the best drivers in NASCAR enter Turn 4 at Charlotte Motor Speedway going almost 200 mph. Without warning, one of the cars wiggles, and then slams into the wall. None of the cars touched, there were no engine failures, no flat tires, so what happened? This is the question that took Professor Diandra Leslie-Pelecky from the lab to the racetrack, speeding around Texas Motor Speedway (she calls it ‘research’) in an effort to understand why going fast is so hard. In her quest for understanding the science of speed, she met the mechanical engineers, aerodynamicists, chemical engineers, and physicists who have become critical participants in the high-stakes world of motorsports. What she learned is that you can’t win races without getting the math and science right. If you make your move without knowing the science, you’re more likely to see the yellow flag than the checkered one.
About the speaker: Diandra Leslie-Pelecky has spent the majority of her twenty-year academic career in nanomaterials research at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Her research in magnetic nanomaterials has led to applications in medical diagnosis and treatment processes such as magnetic resonance imaging and chemotherapy. Her book, The Physics of NASCAR, was excerpted by TIME magazine and has been featured in publications from the Materials Research Bulletin to Sporting News. Her blog on the science of motorsports is avidly read by NASCAR fans and insiders. She has written for and appeared in a number of motorsports-related television broadcasts, including an episode of the Emmy-winning series Quest for the Cup; was host and writer for the National Science Foundation project The Science of Speed; and will appear in a segment for the upcoming History Channel show Invisible. She is a bi-weekly guest on the SiriusXM Speedway satellite radio program where she uses science to debunk “NASCAR Myths” for motorsports fans.Co-sponsored by the Albuquerque Section of the Institute of Electrical & Electronic Engineers (IEEE) and its Life Members Affinity Group, Sigma Xi (the Scientific Research Society), the Department of Physics & Astronomy, the Maxwell Museum of Anthropology, and the Division of Continuing Education.