Optical Illusion - Why A Curveball Confuses Batters

A curveball will slowly shift by a couple of feet at most, but to the batter it seems to suddenly jump several feet.  Watch this animation of the Best Visual Illusion of the Year winner to experience how this occurs.

In baseball, a curveball creates a physical effect and a perceptual puzzle. The physical effect (the curve) arises because the ball’s rotation leads to a deflection in the ball’s path. The perceptual puzzle arises because the deflection is actually gradual but is often perceived as an abrupt change in direction (the break). Our illusions suggest that the perceived “break” may be caused by the transition from the central visual system to the peripheral visual system. Like a curveball, the spinning disks in the illusions appear to abruptly change direction when an observer switches from foveal to peripheral viewing.

Link - via josephfosco

From the Upcoming ueue, submitted by josephfosco.

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re Confused: a curveball actually curves unlike the illusion here so the batter is looking strait forward. When the ball curves he is still looking forward(away from the ball). The spinning of the ball, as illustrated by the illusion, exaggerates the curve.
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Here's an experiment just begging to be conducted:

Would a curve ball "curve" less if it was sewn with white thread instead of red thread, making the rotation more difficult to percieve?
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OK, it's a neat illusion, but I don't think it has much to do with explaining a curve ball. Pitching in general is the art of making the ball appear to do something it's not. A rising fastball, for instance, doesn't really rise -- all pitches drop due to gravity (with the exception of those submarine throwing goofballs I suppose). A rising fastball appears to do that since it's thrown with 4 seams (to give it some compenstating lift) and harder than all other pitches (so it gets to the batter faster). Since it gets there quicker, if appears to rise (only because it didn't fall as much as expected).

A curve ball moves in a direction counter to what the batter expects, and will make use of gravity to have it moves farther than it otherwise would (if it was only the spin of the pitch causing the change in direction).
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