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Galileo Galilei Discovers . . . Backspin!

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The great scientist wrote, in a treatise discussing how the ball behaves in different ball games, including tennis: "Stool-ball, when they play in a stony way, . . . they do not trundle the ball upon the ground, but throw it, as if to pitch a quait. . . . . To make the ball stay, they hold it artificially with their hand uppermost, and it undermost, which in its delivery hath a contrary twirl or rolling conferred upon it by the fingers, by means whereof in its coming to the ground neer the mark it stays there, or runs very little forwards." Galileo Galilei, Mathmatical Collections and Translations. "Inglished from his original Italian copy by Thomas Salusbury" (London, 1661), page 142.

Provided by David Block, email of 2/27/2008. David further asks: "could it be that this is the source of the term putting "English" on a ball?"

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