The Patriots have absorbed a beating in that larger contest, with many scientists concluding that only the surreptitious hiss of air being released from the balls could explain the difference. But now the Patriots have started to rally, and in a big way. Healy, who provided The New York Times with an advance copy of his technical paper on the experiments, concluded that most or all of the deflation could be explained by those environmental effects.
“This analysis looks solid to me,” said Max Tegmark, a professor of physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who reviewed the paper at The Times’s request. “To me, their measurements mean that there’s no evidence of foul play.”
Other evidence is also turning the Patriots’ way. In a usually obscure profession that has received extraordinary attention during the controversy, some academic and research physicists now concede that they made a crucial error in their initial calculations, using an equation called the ideal gas law.
When that error is corrected, the amount of deflation predicted in moving from room temperature to a 50-degree field is roughly doubled. Healy, a graduate student in mechanical engineering at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, went further: He measured the pressure drop in 12 footballs when they were moved from a room at 75 degrees to one at 50 degrees (the approximate temperature on the field in the Colts game).