How Baseball Outfielders Determine Where to Run to Catch Fly Balls (pdf). (1995) Science 268:p569
In which we learn that apparently, there can be a scientific basis for 7 figured salaries. Next up, how to objectively judge figure skating.
ABSTRACT: Current theory proposes that baseball outfielders catch fly balls by selecting a running path to achieve optical acceleration cancellation of the ball. Yet people appear to lack the ability to discriminate accelerations accurately. This study supports the idea that outfielders convert the temporal problem to a spatial one by selecting a running path that maintains a linear optical trajectory (LOT) for the ball. The LOT model is a strategy of maintaining “control” over the relative direction of optical ball movement in a manner that is similar to simple predator tracking behavior.