UBC Alumni heading to the World Series.


Well how cool is that? Looks like one of the starting pitchers tonight is our very own Jeff Francis. What makes it especially interesting to me, is that Jeff was once also a Physics graduate.

This kind of led me to wonder whether he’s ever thinking “Physics” when he’s throwing those baseballs.

Anyway, I’m not the first to think such things. In fact, there was even a movie I once rented with my kids, where a physics student used her knowledge to get “good” at Figure Skating (a Disney movie called, “The Ice Princess).

Better yet, there’s also been some research that attempt to amalgamate the sport of baseball with neurology, as well as a bit of physics. Here’s probably the most well known, which was published in Science a few years back (see graphic above).

And here’s the abstract:

ABSTRACT: Current theory proposes that baseball outfielders catch fly balls by selecting a running path to achieve optical acceleration cancellation of the ball. Yet people appear to lack the ability to discriminate accelerations accurately. This study supports the idea that outfielders convert the temporal problem to a spatial one by selecting a running path that maintains a linear optical trajectory (LOT) for the ball. The LOT model is a strategy of maintaining “control” over the relative direction of optical ball movement in a manner that is similar to simple predator tracking behavior.

Anyway, you can download a high quality version of the first page of the paper at the SCQ.

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David (@ng_dave) is Faculty at the Michael Smith Labs. His writing has appeared in places such as McSweeney's, The Walrus, and boingboing.net. He plans on using Terry as another place to highlight the mostly science-y links he appreciates. In fact, if you liked this one, you might also like his main site generally - this can be found at popperfont.net.