What would happen if you tried to hit a baseball pitched at the speed of light

XKCD breaks down sports' most relevant question: what would happen if you tried to hit a baseball pitched at 90% of the speed of light?

Posted on 7/10/2012

Baseball Speed of Light


Lots of amazing things, but probably not a very good swing:

When it reaches the batter, the center of the cloud is still moving at an appreciable fraction of the speed of light. It hits the bat first, but then the batter, plate, and catcher are all scooped up and carried backward through the backstop as they disintegrate. The shell of x-rays and superheated plasma expands outward and upward, swallowing the backstop, both teams, the stands, and the surrounding neighborhood—all in the first microsecond.

Suppose you’re watching from a hilltop outside the city. The first thing you see is a blinding light, far outshining the sun. This gradually fades over the course of a few seconds, and a growing fireball rises into a mushroom cloud. Then, with a great roar, the blast wave arrives, tearing up trees and shredding houses.

Everything within roughly a mile of the park is leveled, and a firestorm engulfs the surrounding city. The baseball diamond is now a sizable crater, centered a few hundred feet behind the former location of the backstop.


The writer concludes that a careful reading of MLB's official rules would consider the batter "hit by pitch" and they would be free to take first base, if they still existed.

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