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How much height does a bouncing ball lose after its first bounce?

  1. Sep 26, 2008 #1
    On earth, if I drop a ball from a building height 100m, what will be the maximum height of the ball after its first bounce? Note: This is not a homework question, I am trying to design a game and I want it to be as accurate as possible.
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 26, 2008 #2


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    Depends on the material of the ball and the surface you're dropping it on.
  4. Sep 27, 2008 #3


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    Also depends on aerodynamic drag.
  5. Sep 27, 2008 #4
    Given the information you have provided(none) who is to say that the ball will even bounce?
  6. Sep 27, 2008 #5


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    Just to provide the true range - the answer could literally be anything between zero and 99+m.
  7. Sep 27, 2008 #6
    If the ball has perfect elasticity (theoretical), the ground is perfectly solid, and there is no atmosphere, it will bounce forever back to the same height, correct me if I am wrong.

    In reality of course these conditions can never occur and the answer depends on the degree of the above-mentioned factors.
  8. Sep 27, 2008 #7


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    Consider what you know of real world materials and interaction, because I did a brief search attempting to find a table (similar to friction tables?) of relative elasticity values but didn't find anything.

    If it's something like a golf ball on concrete, maybe give it 50-60m?
    A solid, rubber ball (lacrosse) maybe 70 or so?
    A volleyball, maybe 10-20m?

    As long as you have a general idea of what the two surfaces are, you should be able to come up with a reasonable estimate that won't look too outrageous. Just test it out and see if it looks normal to you. Humans have a pretty good ability to recognize when something "shouldn't be happening".
  9. Sep 27, 2008 #8


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    For official tennis balls dropped form 100" they must bounce between 53-58"

    I once built a computer vision rig to allow a company to check them.
    They take samples from the production line for normal bals, but those for competitions are all checked individually.
  10. Sep 28, 2008 #9
    Thanks for all the messages. I never realized all the different factors that could affect bounce height. I think I'll stick with the tennis ball - style bounce, because that would look the best.
  11. Sep 28, 2008 #10


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    Remember that on subseqent bounces the ball losses the same proportion of it's height. So if a tennis ball bounces form 100" back to 50" on the first bounce (50%) it will bounce to 25" on the next, 12.5" on the next and so on.
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