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Baseball Research Lab on Discovery Channel

Show Highlights Science Behind Bat and Ball Collisions

This frame from the Time Warp video shows how a baseball gets deformed upon contact with a bat.

01/21/2009
By For more information, contact media@uml.edu or 978-934-3224

(1/21/09)

As Major League Baseball teams get ready for spring training, the contribution of UMass Lowell’s Baseball Research Center to America’s favorite sport was spotlighted in a recent episode of Discovery Channel TV’s Time Warp series hosted by MIT’s Jeff Lieberman.

The six-minute segment, which aired last November, showed Patrick Drane, assistant director of the Center, explaining why baseball bats sometimes break during a game. Using the lab’s air cannon, Drane fired baseballs at a stationary bat made of ash. A super high-speed video camera shooting at 10,000 frames per second recorded how the ball gets squashed and the bat vibrates like Jell-O during the collision.

In one demonstration, Drane fired a ball at 150 miles per hour ߝ replicating a 90-mph fastball and a 60-mph swing ߝ outside the bat’s proverbial “sweet spot,” causing the bat to vibrate so violently that it splintered along the wood’s grain.

- Edwin_Aguirre