17 years ago, on this day, a Brazilian named Roberto Carlos rose to fame as he astonished scientists and football fans alike with a spectacular “freak” free kick against France. The goal is considered as one of the best free-kick ever with its trajectory also left the scientists to research more.

Some scientists call the phenomenon as “spinning ball spiral”. According to an interview given to Daily Mail, renowned scientists Professors Christophe Clanet and David Quere said: ‘When shot from a large enough distance, and with enough power to keep an appreciable velocity as approaching the goal, the ball can have an unexpected trajectory. Carlos kick started with a classical circular trajectory but suddenly bent in a spectacular way and came back to the goal, although it looked out of the target a small moment earlier. People often noticed that Carlos’ free kick had been shot from a remarkably long distance; we show in our paper that this is not a coincidence, but a necessary condition for generating a spiral trajectory.’

Prof Clanet and Prof Quere called their discovery the ‘spinning ball spiral’ . Further Professor Clanet said “If he had not hit it so hard then gravity would have stopped it from taking the path it did. And he would have not have been able to curve it in such a way if he had been nearer the goal. That is why you never see penalty kicks swerve.”

Haven’t yet seen the free-kick ? See it here.

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