Read The Physics of Baseball by Robert K. Adair Free Online
Book Title: The Physics of Baseball|
The author of the book: Robert K. Adair
ISBN 13: 9780060950477
Date of issue: January 20th 1994
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 6.38 MB
City - Country: No data
Loaded: 1617 times
Reader ratings: 5.2
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I read this when I was a kid (of course I did, because it perfectly combined two of my geeky obsessions) but I suspect a fair fraction flew over my head. Now, having studied quite a lot more physics, I can see that it's not really meant to be a popular treatment of the subject, so much as it is a first draft to a thorough technical analysis. As a result, it can be an intimidating read for layfolk, but also a fairly accurate window into how professional physicists attack new research problems.
The book opens with a blast of fluid dynamics, describing the flight of the baseball. By its nature, fluid dynamics is one of the more opaque sub-branches of physics -- the realm of turbulence, chaos and ad hoc empirical approximations. (Turbulence is one of the great unsolved problems in physics, and a solution to it could win you a cool million dollars.) It is a hard topic to present at the best of times but Adair actually does a pretty good job getting to the heart of why a curveball curves. The explanation could probably benefit from just a bit more exposition and explanation of basic concepts, and there are a few sentences here and there that leave you scratching your head, but a solid effort.
The later chapters on pitching and batting have more to do with materials and kinematics than fluid flow, and are less complicated but a bit duller and more repetitive. Much of the content of the book comes from simple models of throwing and hitting baseballs, based on likely approximations and squeezing information out of what little experimental data exists. When things get too dry, the author does his best to spice things up with baseball lore. In fact, one of the really cool things about the book is how he tries to address and assess the opinions and wisdom of pro baseball players, and provide explanations for many of the common features of the game.
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