Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 78.djvu/195

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191
THE DYNAMICS OF A GOLF BALL

must be less than its velocity when it started at P; there must, then, have been pressure acting against the motion of the air as it moved from P to Q, i. e., the pressure of the air at Q must be greater than at a place like P, which is some distance from the ball. Now let us consider the other side of the ball: here the spin tends to carry the ball in the direction of the blast of air; if the velocity of the surface of the ball is greater than that of the blast, the ball will increase the velocity of the blast on this side, and if the velocity of the ball is less than that of the blast, though it will diminish the velocity of the air, it will not do so to so great an extent as on the other side of the ball. Thus the increase in pressure of the air at the top of the ball over that at P, if it exists at all, will be less than the increase in pressure at the bottom of the ball. Thus the pressure at the bottom of the ball will be greater than that at the top, so that the ball will be acted on by a force tending to make it move upwards.

We have supposed here that the golf ball is at rest, and the air rushing past it from right to left; the forces are just the same as if the air were at rest, and the golf ball rushing through it from left to right. As in Fig. 13, such a ball rotating in the direction shown in the figure will move upwards, i. e., it will follow its nose.

It may perhaps make the explanation of this difference of pressure easier if we take a somewhat commonplace example of a similar effect. Instead of a golf ball, let us consider the case of an Atlantic liner, and, to imitate the rotation of the ball, let us suppose that the passengers are taking their morning walk on the promenade deck, all circulating round the same way. When they are on one side of the boat they have to face the wind, on the other side they have the wind at their backs. Now when they face the wind, the pressure of the wind against them is greater than if they were at rest, and this increased pressure is exerted in all directions, and so acts against the part of the ship adjacent to the deck; when they are moving with their backs to the wind, the pressure against their backs is not so great as when they were still, so the pressure acting against this side of the ship will not be so great. Thus the rotation of the passengers will increase the pressure on the side of the ship when they are facing the wind, and diminish it on the other side. This case is quite analogous to that of the golf ball.

The difference between the pressures on the two sides of the golf ball is proportional to the velocity of the ball multiplied by the velocity of spin. As the spin imparted to the ball by a club with a given loft is proportional to the velocity with which the ball leaves the club; the difference of pressure when the ball starts is proportional to the square of its initial velocity. The difference between the average pressures on the two sides of the ball need only be about one fifth of