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Slicing Pizzas, Racing Turtles, and Further Adventures in Applied Mathematics by Robert B. Banks

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24

How Long Is the Seam on a Baseball?

Or, if you prefer, how long is the groove on a tennis ball? Now we all know that (a) this is not one of the great unsolved problems of mathematics and (b) you will enjoy the World Series or Wimbledon just as much never knowing. However, if you welcome an opportunity to deflate the egos of certain friends or relatives who, by their own admission, know practically everything there is to know about baseball or tennis, your moment has arrived.

We have long been aware of the fact that the seam on a baseball, the groove on a tennis ball, and the dimples on a golf ball, enormously affect the aerodynamics of ball flight. So a study of these geometrical features of sporting balls certainly relates to the very interesting ...

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