The Science of Baseball
Physics makes the ball go round (and up and down)
Each part of a baseball game uses science. Check it out!
Light enough that the batter can start and stop it quickly
Heavy enough that the swing isn’t stopped by the ball
The shell spreads out ball’s impact over more of the player’s head
Squishy pads slow down the ball’s impact gradually over time
Spreads out the force of the ball across the players hand
Players use their wrist to slow down the ball gradually over time
Here’s an extreme example of spreading out force… across a bed of nails!
Makes it easier to grip the Earth
Pushes the Earth one way; moves the runner the other way
(Newton’s 3rd Law)
Big and heavy planet, so lazy it barely reacts to the batter’s push
Round, so that it can slip through the air
Heavy, so that it keeps going
Its seams push on air, lifting the ball or helping it curve
For More Reading
Bonus: Do Curveballs really curve, or is it an illusion?
Initially, there was a debate over if a curveball actually curved in the air. Some people thought it might only be an optical illusion, while others argued that it really curved. Eventually, it was shown that curveballs really do curve (Check out this page). How? It all depends on how the baseball is spinning when it leaves the pitcher’s hand. Proper curveballs spin in such a way to create an area of high-pressure on the top of the ball (or slightly off to the side) to force the ball downwards faster than it would fall with gravity alone (Thank you Wikipedia).
But wait! It turns out that those who thought curveballs were merely illusion were not totally wrong! While a curveball does actually curve, its movement is exaggerated by an optical illusion. The illusion was recently shown by Arthur Shapiro of Bucknell University in Pennsylvania (and can be seen here), whose illusion was voted the best visual illusion in the world in 2009. So what are pitchers really throwing at the plate? Looks like part curving ball, part optical illusion.
Look at the spinning disc.
Does it fall straight down?
Now stare at the blue fixed point.
Keep looking at the blue dot…
Which way is the disc falling now?