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Pool and Billiards Physics Principles by Coriolis and Others - Alciatore AJP MS22090 Revised Pool Physics Article

Pool and Billiards Physics Principles by Coriolis and Others - Alciatore AJP MS22090 Revised Pool Physics Article

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Published by ericchen0121
The purpose of this paper is to provide illustrations and explanations of many important pool and billiards physics principles. The goal is to provide a single and complete resource to help physics instructors infuse billiards examples into their lectures. The main contributions of Coriolis in his 1835 billiards physics book are presented along with other more recent developments and experimental results. Also provided are numerous links to pool physics references, instructional resources, and online video demonstrations. Technical derivations and extensive experimental results are not included in the article, but they are all available and easy to find online with the references and links provided. By David G. Alciatore, PhD, PE ("Dr. Dave")
The purpose of this paper is to provide illustrations and explanations of many important pool and billiards physics principles. The goal is to provide a single and complete resource to help physics instructors infuse billiards examples into their lectures. The main contributions of Coriolis in his 1835 billiards physics book are presented along with other more recent developments and experimental results. Also provided are numerous links to pool physics references, instructional resources, and online video demonstrations. Technical derivations and extensive experimental results are not included in the article, but they are all available and easy to find online with the references and links provided. By David G. Alciatore, PhD, PE ("Dr. Dave")

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“Pool and Billiards Physics Principles by Coriolis and Others”
David G. Alciatore, PhD, PE (“Dr. Dave”)Department of Mechanical EngineeringColorado State University1374 Campus DeliveryFort Collins, CO 80523David.Alciatore@colostate.edu ph: (970) 491-6589FAX: (970) 491-3827
manuscript number: MS22090
originally submitted to the American Journal of Physics: 8/7/08reviews received: 9/2/08re-submitted with major revisions: 9/16/08most recent revision: 10/8/08
Abstract
The purpose of this paper is to provide illustrations and explanations of many important pooland billiards physics principles. The goal is to provide a single and complete resource to helpphysics instructors infuse billiards examples into their lectures. The main contributions of Coriolis in his 1835 billiards physics book are presented along with other more recentdevelopments and experimental results. Also provided are numerous links to pool physicsreferences, instructional resources, and online video demonstrations. Technical derivations andextensive experimental results are not included in the article, but they are all available and easy tofind online with the references and links provided.key words: billiards, pool, physics, Coriolis, collision, friction, squirt, swerve, throw
I. INTRODUCTION
Pool (pocket billiards) is a great physics-teaching tool. It involves many physical principlesincluding conservation of momentum and energy, friction, elastic and inelastic collisions,translational and rotational equations of motion, solid mechanics, vibrations, etc. Also, practically
 
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all students have either played or watched pool before, so they can relate to and get excited aboutpool examples, especially if the physics understanding might actually help them play better.Furthermore, because the playing surface of a pool table is ideally flat and the balls are ideallyperfectly round and homogeneous spheres of equal mass, and ball collisions are nearly elastic andnearly friction-free, equations written for ball trajectories can actually be solved analytically, withonly a few idealized assumptions.In 1835, Gaspard-Gustave Coriolis wrote a comprehensive book presenting the physics of pool and billiards. Coriolis was not only a great mathematician and physicist ... he was also anavid billiards enthusiast. Coriolis’ billiards physics book has not been very widely read because itwas written in French, and an English translation has become available only recently (in 2005 byDavid Nadler [1]). There has also been many technical papers and online material published overthe years expanding on pool physics knowledge [2-5]. In this article, I want to give an overviewof many of the important and useful principles that can be used as examples in physics classes. Tokeep this paper of reasonable length, many of the technical derivations are provided online. I alsoplan to write more papers in the future that will delve more into some of the technical details andexperimental results related to some of the principles.The paper begins with some basic pool terminology, including important effects that comeinto play when sidespin is used (i.e., when the cue ball is struck left or right of center). Then Isummarize many of the important principles discovered by Coriolis in the early 1800s. Finally, Ipresent several topics for which I have done much work over the years: the 90º and 30º rules, cueball “squirt” or “deflection,” and friction “throw” effects.Supporting narrated video (NV) demonstrations, high-speed video (HSV) clips, and technicalproofs (TP) referenced throughout the article can be accessed and viewed online at
http://billiards.colostate.edu
. The reference numbers used in the article (e.g., NV 3.1 and TP
 
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A.6) help you locate the resources on the website; and in the online article, the references areactive links.
II. TERMINOLOGYFigure 1
illustrates most of the important terms used to describe pool shots. The
cue stick 
 hits the
cue ball (CB)
into an
object ball (OB)
. After collision, the CB heads in the
tangent line
 direction and the OB heads in the
impact line
(AKA
line of centers
) direction. The key to aimingpool shots is to be able to visualize the
ghost ball (GB)
target. This is the where the CB must bewhen it collides with the OB to send the OB in the desired direction, which is along the lineconnecting the centers of the GB and OB (see
NV 3.1
and
NV 3.2
for demonstrations). The
cut angle
is the angle between the original CB direction (i.e. the
aiming line
) and the final OBdirection (i.e., the
impact line
).
cutanglecueball(CB)cuestickobjectball(OB)tangentlineline of centers(impact line)aiminglineimaginaryghost ball (GB)target
 
Figure 1 Pool terminologyFigure 1
is what happens ideally. Unfortunately, in real life, several non-ideal effects comeinto play. As shown in
Figure 2
, when using sidespin (also known as “english”), where the CB isstruck to the left or right of center, the CB
squirts
away from the aiming line (see
NV 4.13
and
NVA.17
),
swerves
on its way to the OB (see
NV 4.14
and
NV 7.12
), and
throws
the OB off the

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