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The Physics of Sports. Fermilab. Tevatron, 4 miles around. Main Injector, 2 miles around. Argonne National Laboratory. Physics explains things that are very, very large. Physics explains things that are very, very small. Physics explains things that are right in front of us.

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4 miles around

Main Injector,

2 miles around

newton s first law
Newton’s First Law
  • Objects at rest remain at rest
  • Objects in motion remain in motion


newton s second law
Newton’s Second Law

F = ma

What forces are important in sports?

the home run swing
The Home Run Swing
  • Ball arrives on 100 downward trajectory
  • Big Mac swings up at 250
  • Ball takes off at 350
      • The optimum home run angle!

Courtesy of A. Nathan, University of Illinois.

newton s third law
Newton’s Third Law

For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.

conservation of energy
Conservation of Energy

Potential Energy

Kinetic Energy

Kinetic Energy

Compression Energy

Heat and Sound Energy

conservation of momentum
Conservation of Momentum

If m1 = m2, then v1 = v2

equipment features
Equipment features
  • Ball material, size, shape, and texture
  • Properties of the club, bat, racquet, or stick
Reaction Time in Baseball

Courtesy of R. Adair through A. Nathan.

compare your reaction time
Compare your reaction time…

Equation used: t = √((2d)/g)

physical laws explain the world
Physical laws explain the world
  • Newton’s Laws of Motion
  • Conservation of Energy
  • Conservation of Momentum

These laws help us explain everything

about sports.

Physics really is everywhere!

visit fermilab www fnal gov
  • Buffalo viewing
  • Bicycling
  • Walking
  • Roller blading
  • Canoeing
  • Fishing
visit fermilab
Visit Fermilab
  • Lederman Science Center
  • Tours
  • Saturday morning physics
  • Ask a Scientist

On-line activities: