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How Does Messi Shoot a Curveball?

Author: Edgar Zhu

Editors: Katelyn Ma and Liane Xu

Artist: Tiffany Chen

The ball flew in a beautiful arc around a wall of defensive Osasuna players and into their net. It was Messi's fifth straight free-kick of the season. His incredible skill was Barcelona’s nuclear weapon, destroying opponents one after another. This article will give insight into the basic physics theories and principles that play a role in making it possible for Messi to shoot curveballs.

The fundamental principles of the phenomenon of the curveball are “Bernoulli's principle” and the “Magnus Effect”. Bernoulli’s principle demonstrates that in a fluid system, such as airflow or water flow, the faster the flow, the less pressure the fluid exerts. Bernoulli’s principle explains how airplanes can create lift under their wings- air pressure is different on each side of the wing due to its curved shape. The Magnus Effect demonstrates how an object will move in the direction of lower pressure.