Saturday, November 26, 2016

World Record Basketball Shot!

This week, a man named Derek Herron set the world record for the highest basketball shot, shooting the ball from 593 feet above the basket on a dam in the Swiss Alps. Remarkably, he made the shot on only his third attempt. Using kinematics, it is possibly to estimate how much leeway Herron had with the initial speed he shot the ball at. If we estimate that the hoop was 50 meters from Herron's x-position as he shot the ball, and assume that the hoop is 0.46 meters in diameter and the ball 0.24 m in diameter (based on regulation hoop and ball), we can use deltaX = Vox*t + 1/2at^2 to calculate the initial x-velocity. If we ignore air resistance (which in reality probably played a fairly significant role in the course of the ball), we can say that there is no acceleration in the x-direction, so deltaX = 50 meters = Vox*t. Based on the video, the time from when the ball was fired to when it passed through the hoop was around 9.0 seconds. This gives us a Vox value of 5.56 m/s. Because the hoop is larger than the ball, the ball could really have traveled 50 +/- 0.11 meter in the x-direction ((0.46 - 0.24)/2 = 0.11 meters on either side). Using these minimum and maximum deltaX values, the x-velocity could have been anywhere from 5.54 to 5.57 m/s to make the shot. Clearly, making this shot requires a great deal of control over the ball's velocity, and so making it on only his third attempt was quite impressive!


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