[ExI] mythbusters follow-on

spike at rainier66.com spike at rainier66.com
Thu Dec 23 19:16:55 UTC 2021



From: spike at rainier66.com <spike at rainier66.com> 
Subject: RE: mythbusters follow-on




From: spike at rainier66.com <mailto:spike at rainier66.com>  <spike at rainier66.com <mailto:spike at rainier66.com> > 



>…Earlier I wrote about a video where some yahoos were firing baseballs to M1.5 and hitting stuff.  That really got my wheels spinning.


>…At about 9:23, the instant where the baseball strikes the jar of donut sprinkles, you can see a flash of light: 


>>…What does a Gong Sound Like when Hit with a 1189mph Baseball? - Smarter Every Day 267 - YouTube <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=at-xZA5U1ps> 


>…I viewed that a dozen times trying to figure out what reaction would cause that flash, and I think I have the answer…spike




Whelp, I blew it yesterday, damn.


I ran some estimates, not even calculations, just ROMs and realized my explanation for the flash was off: insufficient energy by a good coupla orders of magnitude in the van der Waals forces between the molecules.  If there is that much chemical bond energy in donut sprinkles, eating even one sprinkly donut would wreck your stomach even before it got to the intestine, just from dissolving.


Then a cool idea occurred to me.  A donut sprinkle is made of sugar primarily, with some butter fat or olive oil or something to dissolve and form it probably, but chemically donut sprinkles arent all that different from… Diesel fuel (except that it is already partially burned (in a sense (because it carries some oxygen along with it))) coupla carbon rings rather than straight C12H26 in a alkane configuration as in the primary component of Diesel.  Even if all of the weak bonds between the sugar molecules broke, that still isn’t enough energy to cause that flash at 9:23, and I don’t think a baseball has anywhere near enough energy to break down the sugar molecules by impact.


Then it occurred to me: when the baseball strikes the jar and it shatters, the sprinkles in the compression zone break down as the shock wave passes over them, turning them into sugar molecules.  The compression zone forward of the ball is air, already hot, already compressed.  In a Diesel engine, fuel is introduced into a confined space with air already hot, already compressed.  Result: combustion.


My new theory is that for the short interval of time, perhaps a coupla microseconds, there is enough air to ignite the sugar molecules, after which there is too much fuel and not enough air, so the combustion phase is short, and still would be, even if we had a way to get the baseball travelling faster than M1.5.  A faster ball would have more air in the compression zone, so more of the sprinkles might burn, but the duration of the combustion might be even shorter with a faster ball.





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