So, I read yesterday that some astronaut on the space station was gonna throw out the first pitch from space for the Yankees-Bosox game. How does that work, exactly? Is he really gonna throw it from space into Yankee stadium? It seems unlikely. I missed the beginning of the game because of soccer practice (which got snowed out, another strange story, but I digress), so I never got to see the pitch thrown. I assume he lobbed a throw inside the space station, it got shown on the jumbo-tron at Yankee stadium, the umpire said "plsy ball," life goes on. But I don't know. All the press releases and coverage of the game just said he threw out the first pitch from space. No more explanation. You'd think somebody in the newsroom would have enough intellectual curiosity to find out exactly what that means. And then tell us.
Again, I digress.
My main point is, I don't think you can throw a baseball from the space station to Earth. If I remember my high school physics, all actions produce equal and opposite reactions. So, if you tried to throw a baseball from space, the ball would go toward Earth a little, the space station would go away from Earth a little, they'd both end up in orbit. Because the baseball is already falling. That what orbits are: objects in freefall around other, larger objects. Caught in the sweet spot where centrifugal force balances out gravity. That's what Newton really figured out when that apple fell on his head. Not that gravity caused the apple to fall. But that the falling apple and the orbiting moon are both exhibiting the exact same behavior. Both are in freefall.
But something tells me my logic regarding the baseball is wrong. Because if you fired a gun toward Earth, surely the bullet would hit. It wouldn't go in a straight line, it'd travel in a spiral, but ultimately it would hit. The bullet would have enough energy to cancel out the centrifugal force. I think.
So maybe the deciding factor is how hard you throw the baseball. I don't know.
Anybody out there know? Anybody out there care? Anybody out there spend inordinate amounts of time thinking about useless minutia like this?
Since I don't have an end to that thought (it's basically just an extended question), I'll post a wonderful picture I stole from Primordial Slack. She stole it from someone else. So I can't give credit. But it sure is cool.