The 47-year-old celebrity scientist—you've seen him teaching kids about gravity and other natural forces on PBS—is a baseball obsessive and a Mariners fan
SI: So, does corking a bat work?
Nye: It makes the bat lighter in the business end, and there's a pseudoscientific notion that it makes the bat springier, but this turns out not to be the case.
SI: Why not?
Nye: The ball's only in contact with the bat for one one-thousandth of a second, and there's just not time to transfer the energy from the cork to the ball.
SI: Is there any way cork would help?
Nye: For fun I taped nine wine bottle corks to the outside of a bat and hit off a tee. The first two or three times I hit it, it seemed like the ball went about 10% farther—but then the cork shattered.
SI: What's the best way to cheat effectively?
Nye: Spitballs, definitely. The spit allows the ball to slip off your fingers, so you can grip it tightly and throw it hard without much spin.
SI: What other physics lessons apply to baseball?