National authority on physics of baseball to speak on Sept. 9

Alan Nathan, professor emeritus of physics at the University of Illinois, is a nationally recognized expert on the physics of baseball.

Physicist Alan Nathan. (Nathan Stauffer)

Alan M. Nathan, a professor emeritus of physics at the University of Illinois and a nationally recognized expert on the physics of baseball, speaks at Bates at 4:10 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 9, in Room 204 of Carnegie Science Hall, 44 Campus Ave.

Titled The Physics of Baseball: You Can Observe a Lot by Watching (a phrase borrowed from Yogi Berra), Nathan’s talk is presented by the physics and astronomy department at Bates. Refreshments will be served in the Carnegie lobby at 3:45 pm. For more information, please call 207-786-6490.

A native of Rumford, Maine, Nathan will use high-speed video clips to highlight some of the interesting physics underlying the game of baseball. He will discuss the baseball-bat collision, the intricacies of a baseball’s flight and such practical questions as: What is the “sweet spot” of a bat? How does the batter’s grip affect the batted ball? Why does aluminum outperform wood? What determines how far a fly ball travels? How much does a curve ball break? What’s the deal with the knuckleball?

Nathan has consulted with major league teams including the Red Sox and served on the NCAA’s research panel during its exploration of the qualities of wood vs. aluminum bats. He has worked as consultant in baseball injury cases and was an adviser to the inventor of Sportvision’s widely used PITCHf/x pitch-tracking system during its development.

A nuclear physicist, Nathan joined the physics department at Illinois as an assistant professor in 1977 and retired in 2008.