Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Can mathematics help Usain Bolt run faster?

Date:
April 4, 2012
Source:
Wiley-Blackwell
Summary:
Usain Bolt can achieve faster running times with no extra effort on his part or improvement to his fitness, according to a new study. A mathematician illustrates how, based on concrete mathematical evidence, Bolt can cut his world record from 9.58 seconds to 9.45. Usain Bolt holds the current 100m world record, at 9.58s, and has been described as the best sprinter there has ever been, dramatically reducing his running times since he first won the world record in 2008.

Usain Bolt can achieve faster running times with no extra effort on his part or improvement to his fitness, according to a study published today in Significance, the magazine of the Royal Statistical Society and the American Statistical Association. Cambridge Professor of Mathematical Sciences John D. Barrow illustrates how, based on concrete mathematical evidence, Bolt can cut his world record from 9.58 seconds to 9.45.

Usain Bolt holds the current 100m world record, at 9.58s, and has been described as the best sprinter there has ever been, dramatically reducing his running times since he first won the world record in 2008. Previous scientific studies have been carried out aiming to predict his maximum speed, yet have failed to take all the relevant factors into account, and Bolt has already surpassed the speeds they predicted.

Today’s Significance study highlights the three key factors instrumental in improving Bolt’s performance, which combined produce an improvement of 0.13s.

Firstly, Bolt’s reaction time is surprisingly poor, in fact one of the longest of leading sprinters. By responding to the gun as quickly as possible without triggering a false start, with 0.10s, he would shave 0.05s off his world record to 9.53s.

Secondly, advantageous wind conditions can help athletes improve their times, although this is supposedly taken into account. Bolt’s Berlin record of 9.58s benefitted from a modest 0.9m/s tailwind. If he were to benefit from a maximum permissible tailwind of 2m/s, he would expend less effort on beating wind drag and reduce this record further by 0.05s to 9.48s.

Thirdly, running at altitude reduces the air density in the wind drag calculation, as was witnessed at the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico City (2240m above sea level), where significant improvements over short distances were displayed (although for longer distances the altitude makes running more difficult). As a result, athletics world records are only permitted at altitudes of up to 1000m, but this still allows Bolt to reduce his time by a further 0.03s to 9.45s if he runs at this altitude.

“With the relatively big chunks we’ve seen Bolt take out of world records, we are still a long way from understanding the limits of his, and others’, sprinting speeds,” said Professor Barrow. “What this study serves to illustrate is the insight maths can give into sports performance, which has not been done previously to such a degree of accuracy.”


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Wiley-Blackwell. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. John D. Barrow. How Usain Bolt can run faster - effortlessly. Significance, 2012; 9 (2): 9 DOI: 10.1111/j.1740-9713.2012.00552.x

Cite This Page:

Wiley-Blackwell. "Can mathematics help Usain Bolt run faster?." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 4 April 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120404102537.htm>.
Wiley-Blackwell. (2012, April 4). Can mathematics help Usain Bolt run faster?. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 1, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120404102537.htm
Wiley-Blackwell. "Can mathematics help Usain Bolt run faster?." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120404102537.htm (accessed August 1, 2014).

Share This




More Science & Society News

Friday, August 1, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

House Republicans Vote to Sue Obama Over Healthcare Law

House Republicans Vote to Sue Obama Over Healthcare Law

Reuters - US Online Video (July 31, 2014) The Republican-led House of Representatives votes to sue President Obama, accusing him of overstepping his executive authority in making changes to the Affordable Care Act. Mana Rabiee reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Google (Kind Of) Complies With 'Right To Be Forgotten Law'

Google (Kind Of) Complies With 'Right To Be Forgotten Law'

Newsy (July 31, 2014) Google says it is following Europe's new "Right To Be Forgotten Law," which eliminates user information upon request, but only to a certain degree. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
London Tests 'Sobriety Tags' On Alcohol-Related Offenders

London Tests 'Sobriety Tags' On Alcohol-Related Offenders

Newsy (July 31, 2014) London launched a program to test ankle bracelets that detect if a person has been drinking while on probation for an alcohol-related crime. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Florida Panther Rebound Upsets Ranchers

Florida Panther Rebound Upsets Ranchers

AP (July 31, 2014) With Florida's panther population rebounding, some ranchers complain the protected predators are once again killing their calves. (July 31) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins