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