Weekend Diversion: Superman vs. Baseball (Synopsis)

“If I had to choose a superhero to be, I would pick Superman. He’s everything that I’m not.” -Stephen Hawking

But did you ever stop to imagine that one of those things that Superman would be is the greatest home run hitter of all time? Have a listen to Iron & Wine's song,

Waitin' For A Superman,

while you pause to consider what would happen if Superman played baseball?

Image credit: DC Comics. Image credit: DC Comics.

Or rather, that he played baseball optimally, by the rules, using standard equipment, but was still constrained by the laws of physics. How far, then, could Superman hit a baseball, and how does that compare to our "normal" baseball players' best?

Come find out on our weekend diversion, only at Starts With A Bang!

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What could he do with a golf ball?

By Ragtag Media (not verified) on 26 Jan 2015 #permalink

This is a good article (I've read The Physics of Baseball, btw) and should be taken at face value as "This is the fastest you can hit a MLB baseball using a MLB bat."

As far as Superman goes, he exerts a force-field around him and the things he grabs.

In science/physics terms, imagine Superman picking up the biggest and heaviest thing you can imagine, like a battleship, a building, an airplane, a mountain, etc.

He is exerting all of his force on only a few square inches of that object. Of course it would just deform and break off at that point rather than lifting the whole object...but it doesn't.

This is because of his force field (you can call it what you like, this is the conventional term).

My point is this: because of that same field, he could hit that ball a lot harder than Mach 2.

As a follow-up, if he hit it in the atmosphere, the upper limit would be air friction acting on the ball, which would disintegrate it, the same way it does objects entering the Earth's atmosphere at great speed (or accelerating there due to gravity)...so whatever that is for something made of leather and yarn.
:)

Fun article! Please note that Iron & Wine didn't write that song, however - it's a cover of The Flaming Lips.

Superman could do better by bunting actually. He would hold the bat out at arms length and decelerate the ball to a zero velocity at his chest. Then he could do a Super acceleration out to arms length. This could reasonably give him a 1500m/s release.