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Name: Sean
Status: student
Age: 16
Location: N/A
Country: N/A
Date: 1999 


Question:
I am a junior at East Pennsboro Area High School, in Enola PA.(near Harrisburg). I am doing an independant science experiment, in which I hope to test how various golf balls produce drag when placed in a wind tunnel, because of varied surface areas produced by the varied dimple patterns. Someone at Titleist told me that my experiment may not be possible, and I am looking for any information possible.


Replies:
Of course it's possible. But maybe not with the instruments you have available. I mean, think about it. Suppose you test Titleist balls and Brand X balls, and find Titleist balls are measurably slower with your high-school instruments. Won't Titleist feel stupid? Here they are, multimillion dollar company with instruments far more expensive, sensitive and sophisticated than you can afford, months and years to spend on the project which you don't have, and they neglected to do your simple experiment comparing their balls to Brand X balls. . .

Ah, I don't think so. We can probably count on the golf ball manufacturers to be nonidiots, and so expect every successful golf ball sold to have the best pattern anybody's ever discovered. We expect the remaining differences to be very small, practically unmeasurable by very careful professional measurements.

Of course, our inference could be wrong. So you might go for it anyway, just to see if somebody HAS been dumb.

But perhaps you should include a few other objects with your golf balls, so in case the golf balls all come out the same you can at least say why golf balls are round instead of cubical, or why they are dimpled instead of smooth.

You need to get a reference book on aerodynamic drag at low Mach numbers, and investigate the role of boundary layer separation. A university with an engineering school will have a library with books like this in it, but you might try the encyclopaedia first to nail down some basic concepts and vocabulary.

Grayce



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