After reading Robert Adair's classic book The Physics of Baseball over 20 years ago, I thought I knew everything there was to know about the subject. Since then I have learned much more, due in part to a vast quantity of experimental work done in the intervening period and in part to some superb tools that are now available, allowing detailed studies that were not available to Adair at the time he wrote his book. The advances have come in two broad areas: The physics of the ball-bat collision and the aerodynamics of a baseball. The advances in these two areas have furthered our understanding of the physics and will be the primary focus of my talk. Perhaps surprisingly, they have had a practical application to the game itself. I will give several examples, including the following:
What is the role of the batter's grip during the ball-bat collision?
Why do aluminum bats perform better than wood bats?
How do atmospheric conditions affect the flight of the baseball?
What's the role of spin in the flight of the baseball?
What's the deal with the humidor?
Not covered in the talk will be the reasons for the big increase in home runs in MLB over the past few seasons. But if you ask during the Q&A session, I'll be glad to tell you all I know! My goal is that the talk should have something for everybody, whether your interest is primarily physics, baseball, or the intersection between them.
Prof.Alan Nathan(University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)