In this work, we characterize the lift and lateral forces on a two-seam versus four-seam knuckleball and measure the viscous shear stress. We believe these measurements to be the first reported for slowly rotating baseballs. Our findings indicate the seam acts to either delay or advance separation depending upon the ball angle; these results are supported with flow visualization. The combined effect produces significant lift and lateral forces that can rapidly change as the ball rotates. Furthermore, we found the shear stress to be asymmetric which can result in significant in-flight torque. Together, asymmetries in force and shear stress produce the complicated flight trajectories that can confound the hapless batter.
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PAPERS| October 01 2014
Aerodynamics of the knuckleball pitch: Experimental measurements on slowly rotating baseballs
John P. Borg;
John P. Borg, Michael P. Morrissey; Aerodynamics of the knuckleball pitch: Experimental measurements on slowly rotating baseballs. Am. J. Phys. 1 October 2014; 82 (10): 921–927. https://doi.org/10.1119/1.4885341
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