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Physics in Baseball. Created by: Danielle Fairweather, Chelsea Buchter , and Brian S. Glenn. The Physics of Baseball. Physics during the Game The Stadium “Wave” Photography at the Game. Physics During the Game. During baseball, several forms of Physics is present, such as:

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physics in baseball

Physics in Baseball

Created by: Danielle Fairweather, Chelsea Buchter, and Brian S. Glenn

the physics of baseball
The Physics of Baseball

Physics during the Game

The Stadium “Wave”

Photography at the Game

physics during the game
Physics During the Game

During baseball, several forms of Physics is present, such as:

  • Trajectory of the Ball
  • Types of Curveballs
  • Pitching and Hitting
baseball movement the trajectory
Baseball Movement: The Trajectory
  • The direction of the curve or motion of the ball after being thrown mostly has to do with:
    • Gravity, velocity, and the angle in which it is thrown
  • How long a ball will be in the air for you use Dy=1/2AT^2.

-Dystands for distance in the air

-A for acceleration

-T for time  

  • Vertical acceleration on a baseball would be gravity, which is 9.8 meter per second squared.
  • The horizontal distance the baseball would cover you use Dx=VT.

-Dxstands for distance

-V for velocity

-T for time

  • Outside forces can also effect the flight, i.e. air resistance
the curveball
The Curveball
  • The key to understanding a curveball is the speed of the air moving past the ball's surface.
  • A curve has topspin, meaning that the top of the ball is moving in the same direction as the throw and the OPPOSITE direction of air flow relative to the direction of the throw.
  • For the bottom of the ball, It moves in the SAME direction as the air flow relative to the throw.

The spin put on the ball by the thrower determines the type of throw it can be considered. Here are a few examples:

pitching reaching maximum v elocity
Pitching: Reaching Maximum Velocity
  • For great velocity it is necessary for the thrower to have momentum and transfer it to the ball.
  • The largest body masses move first, followed progressively by the smaller body masses. This is called the sequential summation of movement.  
  • The pitcher starts with his legs, then hips, shoulders, arm, wrist, and fingers.  As each part reaches its full potential it is transfers along the line ultimately to the ball giving it momentum and velocity.  
  • This paired with the rotating motion of the pitcher around his leg, which then moves down the pitching mound, creates maximum momentum and velocity
hitting the sweet spot
Hitting: The “Sweet Spot”
  • Hitting the baseball perfectly is often called hitting the sweet spot.
  • Usually about 5-7 inches from the end of the barrel.
  • When you hit an object with a wood bat at the sweet spot you are hitting the fundamental node.
  • If you hit the ball at the fundamental mode the bat doesn’t vibrate.

Since the energy is conserved, the energy from the collision must be equal to the energy of the system after the collision. The collision causes vibrations so there is less energy that can be transferred to the ball.

The collision of the bat and the ball is considered elastic-total kinetic energy and total momentum is the same before and after the collision

the stadium wave
The Stadium “Wave”

Which includes:

The “Wave”

What is a Wave?

A Wave vs The ‘Wave’

4. Longitudinal and Transversal Waves?

5. Is the “Wave” longitudinal or Transversal?

the wave
The “Wave”
  • Waves are everywhere in nature – even in baseball Stadiums.
  • Waves come in many shapes and sizes. All waves share some basic characteristics, properties and behaviors. In a stadium this could be depended upon the size of stadium, amount of fans in the stand and the energy and spirit in the fans. And of course, if the supported team is winning or not.
what is a wave
What is a Wave?
  • A wave can be described as a disturbance that travels through a medium, transporting energy from one location (its source) to another location without transporting matter. Each individual particle of the medium is temporarily displaced and then returns to its original equilibrium positioned.
  • One way is to categorize them on the basis of the direction of the movement of the particles of the medium relative to the direction the wave travels.
the comparison
The Comparison

A Wave

“Wave” at a Baseball Game

Medium: The SPIRIT and EXCITEMENT of the people

Particles: Fans in the stadium

Interactions: One person stands up, throws their arms up in the air, creating a vertical movement. Once a fellow fan sees another fan do this, it is a chain reaction and the second fan does the same. This creates the disturbance and travels through the spirit of the fans.

Transport of Energy: Each fan in the bleacher once disturbed, completes the vertical movement by standing up and raising their arms, however, they do return to their original position of sitting on the bleacher after the disturbance is over.

  • Medium: a substance or material that carries the wave
  • Particles: the medium is composed of parts that are capable of interacting with each other.
  • Interactions: One particle of the medium interacts with the next adjacent particle allowing the disturbance to travel through the medium.
  • Transport of Energy: The individual particles of the medium are only temporarily displaced from their rest position; they are disturbed but eventually return to their initial position.
a closer look at the energy transport phenomenon in baseball
A Closer Look at the Energy Transport Phenomenon in Baseball

Collision of a Bat with the Ball

The “Wave”

The spirit and energy of the fans can move from one fan to another, by standing up and raising their arms.

The fans in the stands then return to their seats.

Therefore, a “wave” in the stands can transports its energy without transporting matter.

  • A batter transports their energy to the ball through the means of a bat.
  • First the energy is transferred to the bat through kinetic energy. Then, the bat carries this energy to the ball upon collision.
  • Therefore, a bat is used to transport energy from the batter to the ball and involves the transport of matter.
is the wave


Is the “Wave”…




Using this information, the next slide explains the stadium “wave” in both types of cases, so we can see which one accurately describes the “wave.”

both cases
Both Cases:

Longitudinal waves

Transverse wave

If this “wave” in a stadium is a transverse wave then the fans would stand up and raise their arms in a vertical direction, while the wave moves to either the right or left.

So, the fans move in a direction perpendicular to the direction of the wave motion.

Which is the reason why a “wave” in a stadium is classified as a transversal wave.

  • If this “wave” in a stadium is a longitudinal wave then the fans would move (stand up and raise their arms) along the direction of wave motion.
  • For this to happen, it would be an unforgivable wave at any sporting event, because people would have to be bending and raising their arms the direction of the wave.
  • (AKA just plain WRONG!)

Physics as a ball game fan…

  • While there are different sections in a stadium, the use of telescopes, cameras/lens and light reflections greatly enhance the experience.
  • Sitting close to the action and having sun glares
  • Seats to high and its hard to see what’s going on
  • Taking pictures to remember

Brewsters Angle and Reflection

Using brewsters angle for reflection we get off of water:

Polarized lenses help to focus the sun's rays more carefully by filtering out horizontal light that leads to glare, leaving only vertical light to pass through the sunglasses' lenses. The result is clearer vision, especially for someone who is looking into the sun as much as a baseball player typically does.

Using brewsters angle for reflection we get off of glass:


Observing the game…

  • The use of telescopes and binoculars make the far away seats more enjoyable.
  • Multiple lens

that reflect light

at different angles

create an image

through an eye


works cited
Works Cited