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Q & A: The Best Temperature for a Home-Run

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Most recent answer: 10/22/2007
Q:
does air tempreature effect the distance a softball will travel?
- meagan (age 14)
joplin, mo, usa
A:
Dear Meagan,
Turns out that the have one of the worlds experts on the physics of baseball, Prof. Al Nathan, in our department. We asked him your question, and his answer is:

"The main effect with temperature, assuming constant humidity, is the air drag. Higher temperature means lower air density which means less drag. I have not tried to calculate this for a softball, but for a baseball, an extra 10 degrees F in temperature might be worth about 4'-5' on a long fly ball.

The effect might be larger for a softball because drag plays a larger role (due to the larger area). I have not done that calculation, although it is not hard to do.

So, the answer to the question is ...Yes, higher temperature means (slightly) longer distance."

(published on 10/22/2007)

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