Baseball’s resident physicist

The Science Life

By Nathan Seppa, 13:39 PM March 7, 2013

Picture sitting at a baseball park, leisurely watching a game. Your mind wanders, torn between a box of Cracker Jack and the conversation drifting down from the row behind you. Suddenly the crack of a bat snaps you to attention, and you scan the field for the ball. Physicist Alan Nathan would say your attention is piqued because well-hit balls make a different noise than weak pop-ups do.

“You hear a high-frequency sound,” says Nathan (below). There’s a duller thud when the ball misses the b...

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