Saturday, January 8, 2011

Dunking On The Moon

Blake Griffin has been throwing down emphatic dunks all across the NBA, soaring high above the 10 foot rim. Many people might wonder how high Griffin could actually dunk, but I'll go a small step (or maybe a giant leap) beyond in the spirit of applying for a SpaceX internship. How high could Griffin dunk on the moon? And who would be the highest dunker?
It's not actually very complicated physics, just use M*G*H (conservation of energy), and M (for mass) doesn't actually matter here because it's the same for a player on the moon. With gravity (G) on the moon roughly 1/6 of earth gravity, just multiply an earth vertical (H) by 6 to get a moon vertical. Here's what happens with some of Earth's best basketball players:

Player Height Vert Earth Moon
Yao Ming 7'6" 21 10'11" 19'9"
Austin Link 6'4" 24 9'11" 20'0"
Blake Griffin 6'10" 35.5 11'3" 26'2"
Nate Robinson 5'9" 43.5 10'9" 29'0"
Jamario Moon 6'8" 43 11'8" 29'9"
Michael Jordan 6'6" 48 12'4" 32'6"
Kadour Ziani 5'10" 60 12'0" 37'3"

Even I could dunk on a 20 foot hoop on the moon, despite inconsistency on the earth. It's also striking how much more important jumping ability is on the moon. All of a sudden I can out dunk Yao Ming, and Nate Robinson has almost 3 feet on Blake Griffin. The aptly named Jamario Moon and Michael Jordan can of course hold their own (MJ based off his probably inflated vertical may be the best earth dunker) but the title of best moon dunker probably goes to the man with the highest vertical on earth, Kadour Ziani. Of course, he already makes his living as a professional dunker, so he may not even need the moon. But with it, he'd outshine even the brightest of NBA stars.
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