(Roughly) Daily

What if…

From the invaluable Randall Munroe, creator of xkcd, a new feature, What If?“answering your hypothetical questions with physics, every Tuesday.”

First up:

What would happen if you tried to hit a baseball pitched at 90% the speed of light?

- Ellen McManis

The answer turns out to be “a lot of things”, and they all happen very quickly, and it doesn’t end well for the batter (or the pitcher). I sat down with some physics books, a Nolan Ryan action figure, and a bunch of videotapes of nuclear tests and tried to sort it all out. What follows is my best guess at a nanosecond-by-nanosecond portrait…

Read the whole sad tale (and see the other explanatory illustrations) at What If?

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As we restrain ourselves on the mound, we might recall that it was on this date in 1990 that White Sox first baseman Steve Lyons slid headfirst to beat out a bunt… a play that became memorable when he dropped his pants to brush away the dirt inside his uniform in front of 14,770 fans at Tiger Stadium.

(video)

Written by LW

July 16, 2012 at 1:01 am

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