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Relativistic Baseball
what if? ^

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?

Let’s 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 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:

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, they’re just hanging there, frozen.

The ideas of aerodynamics don’t apply here. Normally, air would flow around anything moving through it. But the air molecules in front of this ball don’t 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 ball’s 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 pitcher’s 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 light—only slightly ahead of the ball itself.

TOPICS: Science; Sports; Weird Stuff
KEYWORDS: stringtheory
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To: 1rudeboy

Whatever would happen, I am pretty sure that C.B. Bucknor would get the call wrong.

41 posted on 08/05/2013 10:07:42 AM PDT by tnlibertarian
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To: tnlibertarian

Or Bud Selig declaring the game a draw.

42 posted on 08/05/2013 10:10:51 AM PDT by 1rudeboy
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To: Moltke
My point stands: Silly premises lead to silly conclusions.

Interesting. You are on a one-man crusade against the Hypothetical. What has a hypothetical ever done to you, force some sort of inactivity on your part?

"Assume your car runs out of gas, tomorrow."
"My car never runs out of gas."
"Uh, ok."

43 posted on 08/05/2013 10:15:56 AM PDT by 1rudeboy
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To: Flick Lives

The batter has to swing the bat at FTL speed, creating a counter front of energy, and the entire region of the park is annihilated before the spectators realize they’ve been incinerated. There is a chance that the entire planet is destroyed, depending upon who is swinging the bat.

44 posted on 08/05/2013 10:17:43 AM PDT by MHGinTN (Being deceived can be cured.)
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To: 1rudeboy

Nope, no crusade here. A hypothetical generally has a valid starting point. I don’t see it in the 0.9c baseball (since it necessitates ‘magic’ - which I don’t particularly believe in). I guess my standard for a hypothetical differs from your’s. So be it.

Have a great day and watch out for those relativistic baseballs! Those can be nasty. My sister once got hit by one. Hypothetically.

45 posted on 08/05/2013 10:56:36 AM PDT by Moltke (Sapere aude!)
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To: dr_lew

Well, you may be right, but I still think the damn umpire will blow the call.

46 posted on 08/05/2013 6:07:40 PM PDT by Old North State
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To: 6SJ7; AdmSmith; AFPhys; Arkinsaw; allmost; aristotleman; autumnraine; backwoods-engineer; ...

Thanks 1rudeboy.

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47 posted on 08/10/2013 1:33:53 PM PDT by SunkenCiv (It's no coincidence that some "conservatives" echo the hard left.)
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To: 1rudeboy

At least the batter won’t see what’s coming.

48 posted on 08/10/2013 3:43:33 PM PDT by Bullish (Psalm 46)
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