CONVERGE™ in Popular Science: The Mathematics Of Throwing A Curveball
The World Series is happening right now, which means: computational fluid dynamics! The direction of, say, a curveball is essentially a physics problem: a pitcher applies forces to the ball, like top spin, then releases, and the result’s calculable if you put enough computer power behind it.
A team of researchers from Convergent Science, a company usually in the business of modeling systems like internal combustion engines, turned their attention to baseball after a series of friendly disagreements in the lunchroom over who would win the World Series. Cardinals pitcher Adam Wainwright turned out to be the perfect test subject: his curveball, as measured by the rate of batters he successfully causes to whiff, is one of the best in the game. By using modeling software, the Convergent team accurately modeled Wainwright’s pitch–a technique that could, at least in theory, be helpful in adjusting a pitcher’s throw for the optimal strike-rate.
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