Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 78.djvu/194

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

move the rough ball into the place previously occupied by the smooth one, and you see that the difference of the levels is more than doubled, showing that with the same spin and speed of air blast the difference of pressure for the rough ball is more than twice that for the smooth.

We must now go on to consider why the pressure of the air on the two sides of the rotating ball should be different. The gist of the explanation was given by Newton nearly 250 years ago. Writing to Oldenburg in 1671 about the dispersion of light, he says, in the course of his letter, "I remembered that I had often seen a tennis ball struck with an oblique racket describe such a curved line. For a circular as well as progressive motion being communicated to it by that stroke, its parts on that side where the motions conspire must press and beat the contiguous air more violently, and there excite a reluctancy and reaction of the air proportionately greater." This letter has more than a scientific interest—it shows that Newton set an excellent precedent to succeeding mathematicians and physicists by taking an interest in games. The same explanation was given by Magnus, and the mathematical theory of the effect is given by Lord Rayleigh in his paper on "The Irregular Flight of a Tennis Ball," published in the Messenger of Mathematics, Vol. VI., p. 14, 1877. Lord Rayleigh shows that the force on the ball resulting from this pressure difference is at right angles to the direction of motion of the ball, and also to the axis of spin, and that the magnitude of the force is proportioned to the velocity of the ball multiplied by the velocity of spin, multiplied by the sine of the angle between the direction of motion of the ball and the axis of spin. The analytical investigation of the effects which a force of this PSM V78 D194 Air stream speed variation above or below the golf ball in flight.pngFig. 13. type would produce on the movement of a golf ball has been discussed very freely by Professor Tait, who also made a very interesting series of experiments on the velocities and spin of golf balls when driven from the tee and the resistance they experience when moving through the air.

As I am afraid I can not assume that all my hearers are expert mathematicians, I must endeavor to give a general explanation without using symbols, of how this difference of pressure is established.

Let us consider a golf ball. Fig. 13, rotating in a current of air flowing past it. The air on the lower side of the ball will have its motion checked by the rotation of the ball, and will thus in the neighborhood of the ball move more slowly than it would do if there were no golf ball present, or than it would do if the golf ball were there but was not spinning. Thus if we consider a stream of air flowing along the channel PQ, its velocity when near the ball at Q