Baseball, Fusion and the Mushroom Cloud

As I am fond of informing people who insist that I should write about religion and shut up about anything else, the original sub-header on this blog read, “Religion, Politics, Baseball; the Important Stuff”.

I don’t get to write about baseball nearly enough, but this morning, my elder son, Appa, sent along something irresistible, this fun bit of “relativistic baseball”:

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:

Read it, enjoy it, and if you stay with it til the end, you’ll find out how the whole thing gets ruled. Fun, clever stuff.

If you like this sort of brainy diversion, Leah Libresco is still at Rationality Camp and she’s inviting you to participate from home

Also, if you must release your inner Kraken

About Elizabeth Scalia
  • David

    Never have thought about baseball in those terms. I don’t know about the 0.9c stuff though.
    (I’ve enjoyed reading your blog from the “sidelines” for several years.)

  • Manny

    If were a Yankees fan I would have written on acquiring Ichiro Suzuki, his career, how he will help the Yankees make it to the World Series, and what a classy guy he is. Alas, every positive thing for the Yankees gives me agita. ;)

  • CV

    I just saw the Fentennial exhibit celebrating the 100 year anniversary of Fenway Park and this photo of Nun Day at Fenway was included. Priceless!