Take acoustics out to the ball game!

Happy MLB Opening Day, baseball fans! To kick off the latest season, we’d like to highlight some literature about the acoustics of the humble baseball bat. The sounds a baseball bat makes connecting with a ball can vary so much in frequency that a person with enough bats on hand can create a makeshift musical instrument! In fact, Daniel Russell from The Pennsylvania State University did just that. Check out this video of him playing “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” on a piano made of baseball bats:

This video comes from Russell’s article in the Winter 2017 issue of Acoustics Today, Acoustics and Vibration of Baseball and Softball Bats.” It turns out sound and vibration feedback are incredibly helpful to players and can influence their perception of their performance. The article talks all about the physics of baseball bats and how the sounds they make when hit by a ball. You can also hear Russell talk about the acoustics of baseball bats in detail on an episode of Across Acoustics.

Russell realized that sports are a useful tool for teaching acoustics concepts. In the JASA article, “Acoustic testing and modeling: An advanced undergraduate laboratory,” he and coauthor Daniel O. Ludwigsen wrote about an instructional module in which students study the vibrational characteristics of baseball bats and other sports equipment.

The crack of the bat that heralds a home run seems even more exciting now, doesn’t it?