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Submission + - Is a curveball an optical illusion? (

droopus writes: We've all seen great curveballs, even from AJ Burnett once in a while. The average curveball hurls toward a batter at around 75 mph, accentuated by a 1500-rpm spin. From the moment the ball leaves the pitcher's hand, it travels a smooth, consistent, parabolic arc. There's no disjointed change in its motion from beginning to end.

Yet as the ball nears home plate, the batter observes a sudden jump in its trajectory, the notorious break. A new study in PLoS ONE argues that the discrepancy between the physics and the perception of the curveball may be all in the mind, more specifically, an optical illusion created by the batter's eyes and brain.

Baseball has always been a game of statistics and illusions but now maybe we're seeing why a well-pitched baseball is so damn hard to hit. Video too!

In addition, there's a link to researcher Arthur Shapiro's lab website which has lots of nifty optical illusion things to play with.


Judicial Nominations In the Internet Age 114

Hugh Pickens writes "Chris Good writes in the Atlantic that nominees to the Supreme Court and other high-profile positions are required to provide the Judiciary Committee with everything they've ever written or said publicly, to the best of their abilities within reason. Thanks to the Internet, the last major judicial nominee reported out by the Senate Judiciary Committee, Ninth Circuit nominee Goodwin Liu, included links to YouTube videos of lectures and talks he gave, 573 pages of public writings, news articles about him, syllabi from courses he taught, and statements about legal issues. Even so, Liu was admonished for failing to fully disclose his writings and public speeches to senators, including appearances at such occasions as brown bag lunches and alumni gatherings. 'In preparing my original submission, I made a good-faith effort to track down all of my publications and speeches over the years,' wrote Liu. 'I checked my personal calendar, I performed a variety of electronic searches, and I searched my memory to produce the original list. But I have since realized that those efforts were not sufficient.' Not so long ago, entire news articles in local papers could go wholly unnoticed, by both the nominee and committee members and staff, but not so in the era of the Internet. 'Imagine what will happen when, decades from now, a president nominates someone to the Supreme Court who had access to Twitter, MySpace, and Facebook at the age of 15.'"

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