Wally at the Bat: A Liberal Arts Symposium on Baseball  

Leave it to Chemistry Professor Lon Porter to do a detailed — and often hilarious — breakdown of the materials chemistry behind "building a better bat." Professor Porter shared with the audience the complicated physics behind a 90 miles-per-hour fastball's collision with wooden, aluminum, titanium, and even graphite bats. He also dispelled the myth that corked bats favor hitters, though suggested that any advantage was likely psychological. He threw in enough math to keep his talk liberal arts through and through — saying that a 90 miles-per-hour pitch striking a bat accelerating at 110 miles-per-hour results in roughly 18,000 Newtons or the equivalent of two tons of force. Uh, and did we mention he had some cool cartoon bats, the flying kind?

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