Nebraska in the national news: October 2021

· 5 min read

Nebraska in the national news: October 2021

The University of Nebraska–Lincoln’s Tim Gay explained some of the physics behind tug of war for an Oct. 14 Inverse article on the science behind three of the deadly challenges in the popular Netflix series “Squid Game.” The article was among 20-plus national news stories featuring Husker faculty, staff, students, centers and programs in October.

According to Isaac Newton’s third law of motion, Gay said, the force of the rope on one team must be equal to that of the other. But if the force of the rope is equal on both sides, therein lies a paradox: How can either team win?

“The forces of the rope on the two opposing teams are not the only forces involved — there are also forces on the feet of the teams, and that’s where the paradox is solved,” said Gay, Cather Professor of physics and astronomy.

If the players on a weaker team push harder on the ground, exerting more force, than a stronger team, they could theoretically win due to the angle their bodies make with the ground, he said.

“Newton’s third law says the ground will push back on their feet, with an equal and opposite force,” Gay said.

By digging their heels into the ground and leaning their bodies horizontally, the weaker team in “Squid Game” generates more friction than the players on the stronger team, who keep their shoes flat on the ground and focus solely on pulling the rope.

Assuming that both teams have the same muscle strength, “the team that has their lower legs as close to parallel with the ground will win, because they’re going to be able to dig into the ground more and get a bigger force of the ground pushing on them,” Gay said.

More coverage:

Kelsy Burke, sociology, co-wrote an Oct. 4 guest column for The Washington Post with Smith College’s Nancy Whittier on the push by both conservative Christians and anti-pornography feminists to drive sexually explicit media off the internet. “Conservatives and anti-porn feminists are not exactly friends, but neither are they enemies,” they wrote. “They are ‘frenemies,’ sharing some goals and sometimes cooperating. But they don’t truly collaborate, and they fundamentally disagree on just about everything except sex work.”

Eric Berger, law, discussed the constitutionality of vaccine mandates Oct. 5 on the Faithful Politics podcast.

A photo gallery titled “The Good Life,” featuring the university’s 2021 homecoming festivities, was highlighted in Exposure’s “Campus Stories” section on Oct. 6.

Drone Amplified’s IGNIS system was highlighted in an Oct. 7 Flying magazine article on drones being used to fight wildfires. The system involves a drone that drops pingpong-ball-sized incendiary devices for controlled burns of vegetation. Carrick Detweiler, CEO and co-founder of Drone Amplified, is the Rosowski Professor of computer science and engineering at Nebraska.

Whether birds get caged in the eye of a hurricane may depend on the intensity and totality of the chaos beyond the calm, says a novel study from Matthew Van Den Broeke, Earth and atmospheric sciences. Stories on the research appeared in the Environmental News Network,,, The Weather Network and Yahoo! News Canada.

Homes with trees planted in their yard are worth more — a lot more — than properties without any tree cover, according to a new study from the university’s Bureau of Business Research. The report, sponsored by the Arbor Day Foundation and the USDA Forest Service, found that the collective value trees add to private home properties is more than $31.5 billion annually nationwide. Stories on the report appeared in five Nebraska media outlets, Yahoo! Finance and more than two dozen other media outlets.

Frans von der Dunk, space law, was recently featured on the TalksOnLaw website. He discussed how the 1967 Outer Space Treaty and customary international law apply to modern space activities; the open questions of property rights for celestial and lunar natural resources; liability issues when private enterprises operate in space; how the Outer Space Treaty applies to space tourism and other private space activities; and laws on the militarization and weaponization of space.

Greg Ibach, undersecretary-in-residence in the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources, discussed carbon credits during an Oct. 12 segment on RFD-TV.

John Fech, Nebraska Extension educator, wrote an Oct. 14 article for GCM offering tips to improve golf course hedges.

Brian Fuchs, a climatologist with the university’s National Drought Mitigation Center, was quoted in an Oct. 18 Denver Post article on efforts to better track water use in northwest Colorado. The efforts are part of a nationwide trend to better track water use as drought becomes more common, he said.

The university was highlighted in an Oct. 19 Inside Higher Ed article on a new law that requires California state universities and community colleges to provide students with free menstrual products. The University of Nebraska–Lincoln began offering tampons and sanitary pads in feminine-product dispensers free of charge in 2015.

Katie Edwards, educational psychology, was interviewed for an Oct. 20 Public News Service article on a new study linking premature deaths in adulthood with abuse as children. She said that no matter a child’s background, an abusive situation can shorten their lifespan in a variety of ways, including mental health consequences, suicidality, substance abuse problems and greater risk for diabetes and hypertension.

The university’s Johnny Carson Center for Emerging Media Arts was highlighted in an Oct. 21 Hewlett-Packard The Garage article on colleges and universities using virtual and augmented reality in courses. Megan Elliott, founding director of the Carson Center, was interviewed for the story.

Melissa Whitman, a recent doctoral alumna at the university, and colleagues have found that plant species growing in nutrient-poor, metal-rich soils on Borneo’s Mount Kinabalu can occupy substantially larger ranges than expected. ran an Oct. 26 article on the research.

Lloyd Shenefelt, architecture, was interviewed for an Oct. 26 segment on RFD-TV. He discussed how architecture students at Nebraska are developing plans to revitalize Kimball County, Nebraska.

Faculty, administration, student and staff appearances in the national media are logged at
 If you have additions to this list, contact Sean Hagewood at or 402-472-8514. If you have suggestions for national news stories, contact Leslie Reed at or 402-472-2059.

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