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.
Whatever would happen, I am pretty sure that C.B. Bucknor would get the call wrong.
Or Bud Selig declaring the game a draw.
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."
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.
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.
Well, you may be right, but I still think the damn umpire will blow the call.
At least the batter won’t see what’s coming.
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