Aerodynamics of a Baseball Essay

1431 Words May 6th, 2012 6 Pages
Aerodynamics of a Baseball
John Eggler
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University
ASCI 309
Bryan E. Spears
July 10, 2011

Aerodynamics is known as the study of the different forces acting on an object and the resulting motion of objects as they fly through the air. Today we know that aerodynamics plays a major role in many sports, such as tennis, soccer, hunting, and motor sports, we will investigate the effects of aerodynamics on baseball.

The three main forces that act on a baseball in flight are the weight, drag, and lift. In an effort to understand how a baseball changes direction we will discuss an additional force called the lift coefficient
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By rule, the weight of a major league baseball is a mere 5 ounces. A baseball is made of a solid core similar to a rubber substance, with string tightly wrapping around the core, and a leather stitched covering. Scientists often think of the weight collected on an object and acting on the center of gravity. The center of gravity is the average location of the weight of an object. In other words the center of gravity for a baseball is located at the exact center of the ball. In flight, the ball rotates about the center of gravity.

As the ball moves through the air, the air resists the motion of the ball causing friction and this resistance force is called drag. Drag is directly opposed to the flight direction with slight variations for wind. There are many factors that affect the drag force including the shape and size of the object. For a baseball, this is particularly difficult because the leather covering has stitches used to hold the balls together are not uniformly or symmetrically distributed around the ball. Depending on the orientation of the ball in flight, the drag changes as the flow is disturbed by the stitches. The stitches on a baseball introduce some additional complexity in the generation of lift and drag.
Lift is the component of the aerodynamic force that is perpendicular to the flight direction of an object. Airplane wings generate lift to overcome the weight

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