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Physics Newsbeat

Monday, June 04, 2018

OTP 2018 June 4: How Dr. Alan Nathan Became Baseball Fans’ Favorite Physicist

Nathan said he expected to simply read the book and share on what he learned, and that would be that. But thanks to a local reporter who heard his initial talk and interviewed him about it for the Sunday paper, Nathan is still sharing what he’s learning almost two decades later. Not long after that initial talk, Nathan had a sabbatical from the University of Illinois, so he decided to spend it studying the physics of baseball more closely. He almost immediately found a fascinating rabbit hole of study that helped change a long-held perception in baseball.

“Grip on the bat, while the ball and bat are in contact with each other, plays no role whatsoever in the collision itself. And that pretty much goes against what you might call conventional wisdom,” Nathan said.

“Not scientific wisdom, but baseball wisdom,” he adds, elaborating that at the moment when the ball strikes the bat, the hitter’s grip doesn’t matter at all. In fact, he could even let go of the bat altogether—at that point of contact—and it would not change how the ball was hit.

 


 

 

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