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air resistance

Can You Strike Out a Major League Baseball Player by Pitching Super Slow?

If you want to be a Major League Baseball pitcher, you need to be able to throw a ball really fast—like 85 to 100 miles per hour. The faster the pitch, the less time a batter has to react and swing the bat, which means you have a greater chance of getting the ball past him for a strike. (For folks who aren’t baseball fans: A strike is when the batter swings and misses, or fails to swing at a ball that’s in the strike zone. Three strikes, of course, and you’re out.) This requirement has considerably dampened my dream of…

The Physics of Mandalorian Jetpacks (Hint: They Aren’t Jetpacks)

Let’s say you don’t need to fly quite so far. What about a jet engine? These are the things you mainly see on commercial airliners, but very small jet engines can also be used to make a real-life jetpack.Just like rockets, jet engines produce thrust by shooting mass out the back, which is mostly just air. The energy comes from combusting jet fuel, which is similar to kerosene and is made from petroleum. The increase in the momentum of this ejected matter produces a forward-pushing force.There is a big difference though:…

How to Use Physics to Tell If That Steph Curry Video Is Real

A few weeks ago, Sports Illustrated tweeted this video of Golden State Warriors point guard Steph Curry that instantly went viral. It shows him taking a shot at the basket—from the far side of the court. The ball goes in. OK, I can believe that. He’s a famously great shooter. But then he turns around and grabs another ball and takes another shot … and makes it. And then again. And again. And a fifth time.So is it real or fake? Let’s use statistics and physics to find out.Basic ProbabilityPhysicists don't usually jump…