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Airdate: Aug 01, 2011
Scientist: Dr. Daniel Savin

Golf Ball Warmer

Golf Ball Warmer
Will a warmer golf ball improve your game?

Golf Ball Warmer

Ambience: hitting golf ball

Savin: Nice shot!

Robertson: I came up with the idea for golf in Arizona. It was during the winter so it was really cold there. I noticed that my golf ball didn't fly as far as it normally did that's when I came up with my hypothesis that temperature definitely affects how far a golf ball flies.

That's third grader Peyton Robertson, one of the winners of the Kids Science Challenge, our free nationwide competition for 3rd to 6th graders. To test his hypothesis, we took Peyton to the University of Southern Mississippi, to work with materials scientist Daniel Savin. I'm Jim Metzner and this is Pulse of the Planet.

Savin: We're going to learn about how elasticity of different materials depends on temperature. We're going to take a couple golf balls at different temperatures and we're going to see how high they bounce. Well we're going look at whether Peyton's hypothesis is correct and whether one of the balls bounce higher. We just put those golf balls in liquid nitrogen. So we're rapidly freezing the golf balls. Alright we're gonna take this golf ball and we're going to drop it off at the edge so you need a glove. This is a room temperature ball that I'm going to drop next to you. Ready? Alright.

Robertson: The room temperature one definitely bounced higher. Maybe we should put it back in now? The room temperature one bounced higher.

Savin: It had very good bounce. So as you can see that the elasticity strongly depends on temperature especially for these types of materials.

So Peyton's hypothesis was correct, temperature does effect the performance of a golf ball. What Professor Savin and Peyton found in the lab was that a room temperature golf ball definitely has more elasticity, and thus performs better than a cold ball. But warming up a ball already at room temperature has little or no effect on ball's performance. To see videos of Peyton and Dan in the lab, visit Pulse of the Planet is made possible by the National Science Foundation. I'm Jim Metzner.