From the Super Mario Wiki, the Mario encyclopedia
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The Ball is an item in the PC release of Mario's Time Machine. It is a simple toy ball used for playing. After Mario travels back in time to Padua in 1610, he receives the Ball from a man out on a date. As he is talking about Aristotle and Galileo Galilei, the Ball happens to fall on him from some unknown place, and then asks Mario if it belongs to him. Despite it certainly not belong to him, Mario takes it anyways. He then gives it to one of Galileo's students, who needs to complete an experiment assigned by Galileo on his "law of falling bodies" (which Isaac Newton later refines as his first law of motion), but he does not have an appropriate object to test it. After receiving the Ball, the student thanks Mario for helping him complete his homework, and then continues to talk about Galileo's studies and how they go against Aristotle's proposed theories.