You’re looking at high-speed footage of a tennis ball being served at 142 miles per hour. The video (below) was recorded at 6,000 frames per second. In the span of twelve frames—two thousandths of a second—the ball transmutes from a sphere into a fuzzy green patty, all but disappearing behind the rim of the racquet.


A fraction of a second later, the ball has nearly returned to its original shape. But it overcorrects. It is oblate. Then prolate. Then oblate again. All of this plays out in a matter of milliseconds. What’s most stunning about this video is this: Even at a reduced playback speed (i.e. the first second and a half of the video below), the ball’s struggle to compose itself is over almost instantly. You have to watch the footage frame-by-frame to truly appreciate the ball’s disappearing act, and its dramatic return to form:


H/t Kottke

Contact the author at and @rtg0nzalez.

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