On the LabNotes blog, we’ve studied the connections between chemistry and some of our favorite sports – football, hockey, and basketball. But we can’t forget about the one sport considered as American as apple pie … baseball!
There’s definitely a lot of math and physics involved in this great pastime, so where’s the chemistry?
You can find so much chemistry without stepping off of home plate; it’s in the baseball, baseball bat and catcher’s equipment.
Let’s start with baseball, which are made of cork, winding and leather. The cork is made from wood containing hydrogen, carbon and oxygen. The winding is a combination of polyester and cotton. And of course, the leather is from cowhide, making the outer shell of the baseball.
Baseball bats can be wood, aluminum or composite. Aluminum bats are comprised of zinc, scandium, and nickel melted together. A composite bat is stronger and last longer, though they are more expensive to obtain. They consist of graphite fiber and carbon nanotubes.
Behind the plate, catcher’s don more equipment than their teammates to protect them from high-speed collision with a baseball.
Their chest protectors are made from high density foam, allowing them move quickly and be comfortable. Their masks are polycarbonate, the same material that forms bulletproof glass.
For the batters at the plate, their helmets are made from ABS plastics which are up to 30 times more durable than regular plastics.
So next time you root, root, root for the home team, don’t forget how much your favorite science plays into the game.