Know that trend of drawing famous cartoon characters in a realistic way that surfaces on the Web every now and then? Tell us this bat doesn't look like one of those. That's the visored bat , and there's so much wrong with that face, we don't even know where to begin. Those huge, weird alien eyes aren't even the worst part -- here it is chilling with its eyes closed:. Via J Rios, Scielo.
A member of the long list of horrors that flit and slither around the Amazon basin, the visored bat is thankfully frugivore by nature. It's also relatively rare, which may or may not be because it prefers to have as little sexual contact with its kind as is absolutely necessary. Via H. Stephan Don't give me that look, woman. This is no picnic for me either. Science still doesn't know much about the visored bat.
This may have something to do with the fact that it's a relatively recent find, or the whole "being an extremely rare animal that lives in a dangerous jungle" thing. However, it is not outside the realm of possibility that researchers just don't find the idea of studying them to be all that attractive. Hey, how closely would you like to interact with something that looks like a cross between an orc and Steve Buscemi in the middle of an allergic shellfish reaction?
Why can't I be- Actually, Pink is fine. Softens the horror.
Via Natalie Weber. What the fuck are we even looking at there? Can you even tell? That's not a face. That's not even an animal. If you saw it out in the wild, you'd say, that there is a goddamn mushroom, and an extremely poisonous-looking one at that. Intrigued, you'd lean forward for a closer look. And that's when the Maclaud's horseshoe bat would unfold its wings and calmly, calculatedly pee on you.
This particular breed of horseshoe bat, discovered in , resides in remote regions of eastern Guinea. Its neglected floral arrangement of a face is actually rather typical among the various different species of horseshoe bat in the Rhinolophus genus. All horseshoe bats have these leaf-like protuberances on their faces, in varying sizes and shapes. The effect can sometimes be relatively innocuous, but usually results in Lovecraftian absurdity. If you're lucky, you might even catch a female Maclaud offering its children the ugliest transportation of all time: Maclaud girl-bats come equipped with two crotch-nipples where the baby bats cling for their first few days of life.
So, if one day you're hanging in Guinea, avoid LSD at all costs. Seeing a fungus-snouted bat monster fly by, boob-towing two smaller versions of itself that go "Whee! Via Dr. Peter John Taylor She didn't say yes. You're just making her head bob up and down with your fingers. If there's ever been an animal that screams "Photoshop! There's no way that thing is anything but a photo-op construction -- right away, we can spot bits of squirrel, seal and goat, to name but a few.
Hell, someone's even thrown in a Santa beard for good measure. That Shrek-ear nose is a tough one, mind you. Maybe someone played with filters? Hell, we give up. Let's zoom the camera out a bit, and see what the whole animal looks like:. Via Mike Trenerry The satisfied smile is because your soul just tasted delicious. Once you get past the self-satisfied, unnerving stare, the main thing that stands out on the tube-nosed fruit bat is the feature for which it's named.
There's no solid information as to why these bats' noses took this particularly cocaine-friendly form, but it is assumed they use them more or less as face-grafted echolocation vuvuzelas. This particular species, discovered in , is endemic to the Philippines and critically endangered. Hunting isn't a problem for them, as they are so covert that it was found that not even the locals were aware that it existed. So we're forced to assume that the reason for their dwindling numbers is that their sex face looks like this:. Bruce J. Hayward, Western New Mexico University.
It scoffs at everything you hold dear and beautiful with its never-ending face that looks like it was designed by a toddler who ransacked his mom's medicine cabinet. Of course, the absurdity of a face that just begs for a special-needs helmet becomes horror incarnate when you see the body it's attached to:. Via Bob Golding Suddenly it's a bat-winged horse. Holy shit, that's the spitting image of a devil in at least half of the world's belief systems.
You could show a picture of that bastard to us in a cryptozoology book between "photos" of Nessie and Bigfoot, and we'd think it was the worst designed of the three. Thank goodness, then, that the hammer-headed bat is just a tiny, goofy herbivore.
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But of course not! The hammer-headed bat is a bona fide, grade-A bloodsucker of the worst kind. What's more, it just so happens to be easily the largest bat in its native continent of Africa. With a wingspan that reaches over three feet, they meet the qualification of " megabats. Of course, these giant satan-bats are also aggressive enough to attack livestock in order to drink their blood, and yes , they're also prime suspects for initiating hideous Ebola virus outbreaks. Old-school players were frustrated.
Ruth succeeded in changing what had been the norm for eighty years. On the whole, hitting the ball sharply gives defenders less chance to field it and, moreover, increases the odds it will fly over the fence. Hitting the ball hard became the new objective. The question for athletes and inventors then becomes what variables can be tweaked to help a player hit the ball hard—to increase BBS?
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We can analyze which properties of the bat affect BBS. In physics terms, the momentum of the bat-ball system is conserved during the swing, so the sum of the initial momenta must be equal to the sum of the final momenta. Though simplifying the collision, examining the linear case will yield meaningful insights. The equation for the conservation of linear momentum of the bat-ball collision looks like 1. Since the goal of the batter is to hit the ball hard, not to guide it anywhere in particular, vb final needs to be as large as possible.
Assuming that the mass of the bat and ball stay the same throughout the collision, the equation can be rearranged using simple algebra to yield 2. To increase BBS, vb initial could be increased. Baseball players have long supported this conclusion: If the pitcher is throwing harder, the batter will hit it harder. However, this insight is not always helpful to the hitter—the only values under his control belong to the bat: vB initial and mB. So this ratio needs to be as large as possible, and so the numerator needs to increase. Therefore, we see that a heavier bat will hit the ball harder.
While equation 2 helps our understanding, incorrect conclusions can be drawn if we just stopped there. For instance, if vb initial were increased by any amount, it appears that vb final would be increased by an identical amount. That would be incorrect, because a harder-thrown pitch will result in a slower bat after contact. We still have vB final in our equation, and, in order to get a complete picture, we need to get rid of it.
We need a way to eliminate that variable. The answer is the coefficient of restitution COR. The COR deals with how elastic the collision is between two objects—in our case, the bat and ball. A higher COR means the ball bounces off the bat harder. In the case of a baseball colliding with a bat, the COR is about 0.
The correct equation using C to designate the COR that isolates all of the variables is this: 3. If we look closely at this equation, we see that, if we increase vB initial then we will have a larger numerator, as both the second term and the third term will increase. And so a faster bat will result in a higher BBS. What is curious about the heavier-versus-faster predicament is that these traits are mutually exclusive. If we assume the bats are similarly shaped, a heavier bat is necessarily swung slower, not faster. So which is more important, weight or speed?
Ideally, a player would swing the heaviest stick with the greatest speed, but the ideal is impossible, so players face a difficult tradeoff. Bat speed matters more than bat mass, according to Daniel Russell of Kettering University. Bats of increasing weight were swung at a constant speed. Other factors like ball velocity and ball mass were kept constant. Obviously, the largest bat resulted in the highest BBS. It had the largest initial momentum.
Then bats of the same weight were swung at increasing speeds. Again, other factors were kept constant. Again, the results proved intuitive: The faster bat resulted in the highest BBS. The interesting thing was that a change in bat speed resulted in a higher BBS than a proportionally equal change in bat weight.
So an incremental change in bat speed would give a player a higher BBS than would an incremental change in mass. They intuited correctly that a heavier bat would hit the ball farther, and they concluded incorrectly that the heavier, the better. So what—or, rather, who—was the reason for the shift from emphasis on weight to emphasis on speed? Supposedly baseball players are great experimentalists, so how did such a fact stay undiscovered for decades? The origins of recognizing bat speed as more important than bat mass are difficult to pin down; the shift to lighter bats was gradual and not marked by any one specific event or person.
However, Ted Williams reports in his book, The Science of Hitting, that he began using a light bat during the season. From then on Williams used a ounce bat. In his book he remembered that players using smaller bats created a stir in the s, but he claimed to have been using one for years. In Keep Your Eye on the Ball, Robert Watts and Terry Bahill help explain both why Ruth and others were using such heavy bats though with success and why a lighter bat might have been better.
They had a player swing bats of different weights. As expected, the faster swings were with lighter bats, slower swings with heavier bats. Watts and Bahill realized that there might be a difference between an optimum bat weight and an ideal bat weight. While an optimum bat weight would enable a hitter to create the highest BBS, a bat lighter than that would allow the hitter more time to see the pitch, would give him more bat control, and would enable him to make good contact more frequently.
They suggest that the ideal weight would be one in which the player has good bat control and can wait longer before swinging. They suggest a weight that is 1 percent below the maximum BBS value. The swing speed would be much higher and therefore the frequency of well-struck balls would outweigh the slight dip in power.
Their results suggest that the difference between optimum weight and ideal weight is approximately equal to the difference in the weights of the bats used by Ruth and by Williams respectively. Focusing on the idea that more weight would help him hit the ball farther, Ruth kept traveling along the curve until he reached a fall-off point.
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It is likely, then, that Ruth would not necessarily be able to hit the ball any harder or farther by using a bat that was slightly lighter or slightly heavier. However, pitch velocities have risen since , so that the importance of bat speed has increased. Over time, players have favored increased bat speeds and lighter bats even at the cost—albeit diminutive—of BBS. As bat speed has become more important, many alterations to the shape used by Ruth and Williams have been suggested, from dimpled barrels to bent and V-shaped handles.
DiTullio tested his dimpled bat and found that he could increase the swing speed by about 3 to 5 percent—enough to turn a fly ball caught on the warning track into a home run. By the s, the idea of a dog-leg handle had migrated into aluminum softball bats. While these two bats are some of the many that are disallowed by MLB rules, there have been experiments on bat shapes whose permissibility is only questionable. Some players shave down the handles of their bats. Most are simply trying to change the diameter so that it feels right in their hands when they swing.
He believed his bat speed would improve if he held the bat in his fingers, not his palms. He found that a rounded, triangular-type handle would help the bat sit well in his hands and keep his fingers aligned throughout his swing. Alongside experiments on the shape of the bat have been experiments on its material. For the last quarter century, amateur players have been able to use metal bats in games. The idea was around as early as , 9 but metal bats did not come into common use until the s.
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Originally, metal bats were used because they were more durable. However, performance quickly became the main reason for their use. Indeed, metal bats are quite an upgrade from wooden ones. Like Daniel Russell, Alan Nathan maintains a website where he looks at, among other things, the science of baseball. Both Russell and Nathan explain many of the advantages metal has over wood. However, while the history and science of metal bats is interesting, I will leave it for another to fully explore and explain. I will limit my examination of differences in materials to a look at different types of wood.
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Even though different woods have different characteristics, the type of material used by players had remained remarkably consistent for more than a century. Ever since Pete Browning swung his in , Louisville Slugger has made bats out of ash, specifically northern white ash. As recently as it was generally accepted that professional ballplayers used ash bats.
Today, though, many players are using sugar rock maple. After ash dominated the market for so long, why the sudden change? Interestingly, it was another single-season home-run king who was responsible for altering a convention that had prevailed among hitters for a century. Looking more like bodybuilders than typical baseball players, they slugged it out, drawing fans and media adulation. That year McGwire did succeed in setting a new record, but his reign on top was brief; baseball waited only three years before another single-season home-run record was established.
Besides uncannily quick hands, a nearly inhuman plate discipline, and the plausible assistance of undocumented and possibly unsafe levels of chemicals coursing through his body, to what could Barry Bonds attribute his record 73 home runs in ? Yet only seven years after the record-setting season, about half the bats in the major leagues were maple. Manufacturers claim maple has two advantages over ash.
The first is that maple bats help a player increase his BBS. The second is that maple bats last longer. One obvious place to look for evidence that these bats help players hit balls farther would be offensive statistics. With 50 percent of players using maple, offensive statistics should have increased. Benjamin G. Rader and Kenneth J. Winkle studied the s hitting barrage.
They found that when maple bats started becoming more popular, the offensive numbers actually decreased. However, they caution that maple was not an isolated variable. In fact, offensive numbers have declined over the past decade primarily because of the changing strike zone, the banning of certain substances, and the institution of drug-testing programs.
Rader and Winkle acknowledge the effect of such institutional changes and think their findings are indicative of them, not of wood type. Uniqueness does not imply superiority, however—one does not necessarily have an advantage over the other. After all, McGwire used an ash bat when he hit If statistics will not suffice, perhaps a scientific examination of each material will aid in the understanding of the distinct characteristics of each type of wood and how each is suited for use in major-league games. The table below shows measures of stiffness and other important features of different types of wood.
Specific gravity relates to the density of the wood. Even though hickory was used in the s and earlier, it has fallen out of favor as bat speed has become important. Having a lower value, an ash bat will bend more on impact with a ball than a maple one will. Players notice the inherent give to an ash bat and that the connection with a maple bat feels more solid. The stiffness of the bat also determines how the bat vibrates when struck by a ball. This test is exactly what it sounds like: A hammer is dropped on a wood sample from increasing heights until the wood breaks.
So, compared to ash, a maple bat, which is stiffer, will, with its thinner handle and lower impact bending value, be more likely to snap at the handle. However, an ash bat is more likely to split down the barrel, as it has lower shear strength parallel to the grain. There is an important difference in the ways these two bats tend to break: A splitting bat poses significantly less danger to spectators than does a snapped bat.
A split bat usually stays in one piece, whereas one that snaps leaves the batter holding only the bottom six inches while the barrel goes flying away. In the summer of , a player, a fan, and an umpire were all injured by a flying barrel. As the use of maple has risen, so have safety concerns. Prompted by the rise in broken bats, Commissioner Bud Selig assembled a team of experts to study the issue. Over a two-month period in , the committee collected and examined more than 2, broken bats. Chief among their discoveries was that manufacturers were making bats with a poor slope of grain.
Slope of grain is essentially a measure of how parallel the bat would be to the tree it came from. If a bat breaks at the handle and there is a smooth ellipseshaped break—almost as if someone had cut through the bat with a knife—that is an example of a break due to poor slope of grain. The steeper the angle of that oval, the less strength the bat had. Bats used during the season had as much as a degree angle, which means they were at only 25 percent of the possible strength. MLB now enforces regulations on this issue, but some manufacturers have simply opted to stop selling maple bats entirely.
In addition to considering rules for minimum handle thickness and proposing regulations regarding the slope of the grain, the MLB committee defied conventional wisdom and asked manufacturers to reposition the label on maple bats.
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From childhood, players are taught to swing with the label directly up or down in order to hit with the edge grain of the bat. With the label on the edge grain of a maple bat, the players still hit with the label in the same orientation, but they make contact with the face grain instead. The committee recommended this change because the face grain has a higher impact bending strength, which means it can withstand a higher hammer drop.
So the bat is stronger with the face grain hitting the ball. The recommendation of the committee gives the player a tougher side of the bat to use, and so the bat will be less likely to snap when struck by a baseball. As it turns out, maple and ash bats alike have a higher impact bending strength when struck on the face grain. Yet the label for an ash bat remains in its traditional location. So why would the label not change for ash bats as well?
The answer hinges on the difference in the pore structures. Ash is a ring-porous wood, so rings of pores correspond to the growth rings. Conversely, maple is diffuse-porous—the pores are spread out evenly throughout the wood. These pores compress when ball hits bat.