July 10, 2012

SportsFilter: The Tuesday Huddle:

A place to discuss the sports stories that aren't making news, share links that aren't quite front-page material, and diagram plays on your hand. Remember to count to five Mississippi before commenting in anger.

posted by huddle to general at 06:00 AM - 13 comments

XKCD answers the questions, what if you threw a baseball at 90% of the speed of light?

posted by apoch at 06:17 AM on July 10

Ha! Just came over here to post that. Read through to the end, folks. It is worth it.

posted by Joey Michaels at 08:42 AM on July 10

That ending has grum written all ovet it...

posted by MeatSaber at 02:35 PM on July 10

The thermonuclear explosion, smoking craters, and firestorms might be a bit of an overstatement, but it's still a fun read. A plasma is generated by every lightning stroke, but these do not generate much more than some pretty good fires and shattered buildings. Every night one can watch plasmas being generated as meteors enter earth's atmosphere - no, meteors do not burn up, the streak of light is a plasma being generated in exactly the same way as in the baseball example - and even those meteors that strike the earth don't generate that much energy. It takes a very large object to cause damage similar to that caused by a meteor in Tunguska. So if indeed the batter is considered to have been hit by the pitch, how much of him is left to complete his award of first base?

posted by Howard_T at 05:19 PM on July 10

Those Are Clown Shoes, Bro

posted by tommytrump at 06:44 PM on July 10

Tigers fans watching Verlander's inning in this year's ASF: What the hell was that?

posted by NoMich at 09:09 PM on July 10

Howard_T: The thermonuclear explosion, smoking craters, and firestorms might be a bit of an overstatement,
Surprisingly... not, not much of an overstatement. If anything, Randall (xkcd) is being conservative. Light travels very, very, very fast. Even at 5.25oz (regulation weight for a baseball), for it to travel at 90% of the speed of light means there would be a lot of energy involved. And I do mean a LOT.

Remember, in the most basic model, every time you double something's speed, you quadruple the energy involved. So while a large meteor hitting Tunguska would impart nuclear-bomb levels of energy, it was at best traveling in the few thousands of miles per hour. We're talking about something traveling hundreds of thousands of miles per second. Not to mention the relativistic effects of the air around it, which he went into detail on- the sheer energy means the baseball basically was the fuel in a nuclear explosion, as its atoms are fused as effectively as uranium or plutonium.

This here is a kinetic energy calculator. Now, as you approach the speed of light the numbers diverge from the actual relativistic value, but for a thumbnail approach it's fine:

  • Mass: our 5 1/4 oz baseball is about .149 kilograms.
  • Speed of light: 299792458 meters/sec, or 269,813,212 m/s at 90% of the speed of light
  • Kinetic energy: 5,423,538,118,046,892 Joules
How much is a joule, or a terajoule, or a petajoule? Well, according to wikipedia, you can get a comparison of the energy of different Joule levels. The largest nuclear weapon ever made had 210 petajoules, while the bomb that went off at Hiroshima had 63 terajoules. Our baseball, then, is imparting enough energy to be the equivalent of 86 Hiroshima bombs going off at once, around home plate.

So our baseball is literally causing a nuclear holocaust in the air around it, and the energy involved is 5,423 trillion joules, or 5.4 petajoules. Estimates of the Tunguska event put it at around 50PJ, or about 10 times greater, while the absolute largest nuclear bomb every built was around 210PJ, or 40 times greater.

posted by hincandenza at 09:21 PM on July 10

So if indeed the batter is considered to have been hit by the pitch, how much of him is left to complete his award of first base?

Well, none, but if a batter is hit by a pitch and injured so that he can't take the base, they just put in a substitute. Of course the whole team got incinerated and the stadium with it, so there's no base to take, but...

posted by lil_brown_bat at 10:19 PM on July 10

Sure wish my grandfather's card collection was worth that. We had high hopes, but ultimately this group was worth well less than that. We sold many of these at auction, but retained one of the better Ty Cobb cards.

posted by scully at 08:57 AM on July 11

Not that it's money, but having a Ty Cobb card owned by your grandfather is incredibly cool. Did you always know he had the collection or was it another out-of-nowhere find?

posted by rcade at 09:43 AM on July 11

Tigers fans watching Verlander's inning in this year's ASF: What the hell was that?

Better the All Star Game than a game that matters I suppose.

posted by Ying Yang Mafia at 10:14 AM on July 11

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