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Physics of Bowling



Last week, I went bowling for the first time in a long time. I noticed that there is a lot of physics in the sport. When rolling the ball, the bowler applies a force to the ball causing it to accelerate and travel with a relatively constant velocity down the lane. The reason that the ball does not decelerate very much at all is because a substance with a very very low coefficient of friction is applied to the surface of the lane, making the force of friction on the ball small, but nonzero. If the force of friction were zero, the ball would not rotate at all. Bowlers also commonly apply a torque to the ball when throwing it down the lane. This causes the ball to gain rotational kinetic energy. The friction of the ball on the lane also causes the ball to move outside-in. 


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