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The dynamics of a bouncing superball with spin

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When a superball is thrown forwards but with backspin, it is observed to reverse both direction and spin for a few bounces before settling to bouncing motion in one direction. The bouncing ball is modelled by a two-dimensional iterated map in terms of the horizontal velocity and spin immediately after each bounce. The asymptotic motion of this system is easily determined. However, of more interest is the transient behaviour. The two-dimensional linear map is reduced to a one-dimensional non-linear map and this map is used to determine the number of direction and spin reversals that can occur for given initial conditions. The model is then generalised to describe a ball bouncing up and down a single step or successively down a staircase.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Department of Mathematics, University of Surrey, Guildford, Surrey GU2 7XH, UK

Publication date: 2007-09-01

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