Strive Out This Physics Drawback With a Baseball and a Neighbor


One of the best questions are at all times those that do not have a single clear reply. In my physics courses, I prefer to current college students with issues that may promote a full of life dialogue—and to try this, they must have a number of solutions that would presumably make sense. (They usually should not contain numerous math, in any other case my college students will simply get hung up on the calculations.)

Here’s a model of one among these nice questions; it is actually a traditional.

A human (particular person A beneath) has two baseballs. The human tosses the 2 balls on the similar time however to 2 totally different folks (individuals B and C as labeled beneath). The trajectory of every ball is proven. Which ball arrives on the particular person first? Defend your reply.

Simply to be clear, there isn’t any air resistance on these balls—simply the gravitational drive is appearing on them after they’re “tossed.”

OK, now it’s worthwhile to take into consideration your reply. Choose the very best reply and share together with your neighbors. Sure, really get out of the home and go to your neighbor’s home and see what they consider this query. It should be the start of an amazing dialog. Belief me.

Since I really need you to select a solution, I’m going to delay going over this downside. As an alternative, let me level out why that is such an amazing query for an introductory physics class.

  • It is a easy query to know. You possibly can current this example to somebody they usually perceive what is going on on—it isn’t some tremendous difficult factor. Actually, you can simply present the image after which say “which one gets there first?”
  • Everybody most likely has a solution. College students won’t be too sure of their reply however they will not simply say “I don’t have a clue”—they are going to all at the very least have a clue. Even higher, the scholars will be capable to give some justification for his or her reply. This implies that they will be prepared to debate with different college students. Trace: Getting them to debate with one another is half the battle.
  • There are some points that college students wish to know. They’re going to say “well, which one had a greater launch speed?” After they ask one thing like this, I simply say—who is aware of?

Like I mentioned, it is an amazing query. Now, as a result of I’m weak I’ll go over the answer. Look away in case you are nonetheless occupied with this.

The Physics

Let me begin with a demo. This can be a demonstration you are able to do your self. This is what you do.

Take two cash. Place one on the very fringe of a flat desk in order that it’s nearly to fall off. Now take the second coin and slide it shuffleboard-style so it hits the coin balancing on the sting. The horizontal sliding coin ought to fly off the desk and hit the bottom whereas the sting coin simply falls and hits the bottom. However this is the cool half: They each hit the bottom on the similar time.

This is what this could seem like (in sluggish movement).

Additionally, here’s a numerical calculation of this similar factor (so you’ll be able to see it higher). And right here is the code on trinket.io if you wish to play with it—strive altering the beginning velocity if you wish to see what occurs.

What precisely do you have to see? You need to see that the 2 cash hit the bottom on the similar time. Why? As a result of each cash have the identical beginning vertical place and the identical beginning vertical velocity. Within the vertical sense, the 2 motions are an identical. And that is the important thing to projectile movement—an object transferring beneath the affect of the gravitational drive might be damaged into two separate one-dimensional issues during which the one factor in widespread is time. Within the horizontal course, it is a coin transferring at a relentless velocity. Within the vertical course, it is a ball that begins off from relaxation and accelerates.

However what does this must do with the two-baseball downside above?

To elucidate, we are able to have a look at one other instance: Two balls which are tossed straight up (simply in a single dimension). Right here we go.

Additionally, the code—in case you want it.

What does this present? This reveals that the ball that goes larger stays within the air for longer. Increase. That is your reply. It would not matter what the balls are doing horizontally. It solely issues what they do within the vertical course. The ball that goes larger (even when additionally touring horizontally) stays within the air for longer. Within the query above, particular person C will get the ball first.

Perhaps you do not consider me. Perhaps you assume it depends upon the throwing pace. It would not. Here’s a actual numerical calculation to point out you ways this works. Go forward and click on Play to run it.

See. It really works. The ball that goes decrease will get to the particular person the quickest. Go forward and alter the beginning pace and see what occurs. I made the “people” transfer in order that they are going to be in the suitable place to “catch” the ball. You possibly can change the launch angle too. Go forward and have some enjoyable with this.


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