Here's the scene: Alex Rodriquez is in the batter's box and the pitcher fires a fastball over home plate. It takes only about a third of second for the ball, traveling at 100 miles per hour, to travel from the pitcher's mound to home plate. Yet somehow A-Rod manages to swing his bat around and blow the cover off the ball.The article tries to describe how technical and complicated all of this is -- there are paragraphs about monkeys with electrodes stuck in their brains and everything -- but doesn't this all pretty much boil down to "well, it was 3-1, so I was sitting fastball"?
But there's a problem. The human brain doesn't work fast enough for even the "best player in baseball" to recognize that it's a fastball, crossing over the outside corner of the plate, in exactly 37 milliseconds. By the time he figures out where the ball is, it will be in the catcher's mitt.
"The batter can't actually react to what he sees, because [the ball] would be past him" by the time he reacts, said Richard A. Andersen, professor of neuroscience at the California Institute of Technology. The batter's brain may not be fast enough, but Andersen's research suggests it can make up for that by predicting the future.
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
Predicting the Future