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The Physics of Billiards(Pool)


imani2014

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For the first time this weekend, I played Billiards - better known as pool - and although I lost I throughly enjoyed it. I loved the challenge of getting all the striped balls in one of the "pockets" - holes. Nothing in this world can escape the world of physics. The overall objective of pool is to hit all the striped balls- or the solid colored balls- into one of the pockets using a solid white ball. Technique was needed to hit the white ball the perfect way which enabled you to get a ball in the pocket. This skill was the contact with the ball and the cue. You must hit the ball in the sweet spot if you want to win. But there are many forces acting on the ball; there is the force the cue exerts on the ball when it strikes, acceleration due to gravity, the force of the billiard table- a frictional force. The center mass of the ball too plays a part. All these forces interact multiple times as the game is played. Also Newton's first law: "an object at rest stays at rest and an object in motion stays in motion unless acted upon by an outside force," applies to pool. The balls stay at rest when they're in the rack, but once you remove the rack and break the formation with the white ball, you've added another force to the mix. Now the balls break from formation and speed across the billiard table until friction finally stops them, then they stay at rest until you aim the white ball at them and fire!

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