Skip to comments.Relativistic Baseball
Posted on 08/04/2013 9:27:49 AM PDT by 1rudeboy
What would happen if you tried to hit a baseball pitched at 90% the speed of light?
Lets set aside the question of how we got the baseball moving that fast. We'll suppose it's a normal pitch, except in the instant the pitcher releases the ball, it magically accelerates to 0.9c. From that point onward, everything proceeds according to normal physics.:
The answer turns out to be a lot of things, and they all happen very quickly, and it doesnt 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:
The ball is going so fast that everything else is practically stationary. Even the molecules in the air are stationary. Air molecules vibrate back and forth at a few hundred miles per hour, but the ball is moving through them at 600 million miles per hour. This means that as far as the ball is concerned, theyre just hanging there, frozen.
The ideas of aerodynamics dont apply here. Normally, air would flow around anything moving through it. But the air molecules in front of this ball dont have time to be jostled out of the way. The ball smacks into them so hard that the atoms in the air molecules actually fuse with the atoms in the balls surface. Each collision releases a burst of gamma rays and scattered particles.
These gamma rays and debris expand outward in a bubble centered on the pitchers mound. They start to tear apart the molecules in the air, ripping the electrons from the nuclei and turning the air in the stadium into an expanding bubble of incandescent plasma. The wall of this bubble approaches the batter at about the speed of lightonly slightly ahead of the ball itself.
I can see it becoming more than a theoretical exercise - when Carney speaks the truth during a press conference...
Everything within roughly a mile of the park is leveled, and a firestorm engulfs the surrounding city. The baseball diamond is now a sizable crater, centered a few hundred feet behind the former location of the backstop.
But the batter gets to take first.
“A careful reading of official Major League Baseball Rule 6.08(b) suggests that in this situation, the batter would be considered “hit by pitch”, and would be eligible to advance to first base.”
Of course first base has been vaporized, as well as the rest of the field.
I stumbled across the What If site a while back.
Very cool mental jumping jacks.
Or suicide squeeze.
Are you watching the Tigers game today? I’m dreading it. Maybe the Sox could find this sort of a pitcher.
Yeah I’ll be watching. Tigers have done welll considering the fact that Cabrera has only played 4 partial games of the last 10 and the Tigers have a 7 game winning streak going on.
Iglesias has been a nice surprise. They said he was a great defender but slumping at bat when he was traded from Boston but in his first game in Detroit he drove in a run and yesterday he hit a home run and almost hit a second home run.
What if there was a robot apocalypse? How long would humanity last?
If it were a Marlins game in Miami, would anyone notice?
Pitch #2 should be a changeup going 70% the speed of light. The batter would never be able to hold up after he gets a look at that first heater. Pitch #3 should just be a 62mph knuckleball. Batter strikes out on three pitches, swinging at the last one 12,000 times before it gets to the plate.
Does the infield fly rule still apply?
I believe the batter, catcher and umpire would be instantaneously turned into a radioactive puddle of goo so a pinch hitter (from another state) would be awarded first. But even before that occurs I believe the game would be postponed on account of nuclear winter in the immediate area of the game.
So is it a strike or not?