Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Formula can calculate a person's speed by just looking at their footprints

Date:
April 22, 2013
Source:
FECYT - Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology
Summary:
Scientists have designed an equation that provides a highly accurate estimate of an individual's speed based on stride length. They used data from professional athletes and walking and running experiments on a beach in order to come up with the equation. The result has applications in the study of fossil trackways of human footprints.

The calculation works perfectly well both whether the individuals are running or walking.
Credit: Christian Haugen

Two Spanish scientists have designed an equation that provides a highly accurate estimate of an individual's speed based on stride length. They used data from professional athletes and walking and running experiments on a beach in order to come up with the equation. The result has applications in the study of fossil trackways of human footprints.

Related Articles


In the spring of 2008, 14 palaeontology students from the Complutense University of Madrid ran along a beach in Asturias (Spain) at the request of a planetary geologist who was a friend of their fieldwork director. Javier Ruiz, from the Complutense University of Madrid (Spain), and his colleague Angιlica Torices, from the University of Alberta (Canada), just out of curiosity, wanted to check how accurately an individual's speed could be calculated based on their tracks.

The results, published in 2013 in the journal Ichnos, show that, without needing any other data such as leg length, they were able to achieve quite a high degree of accuracy, with a margin of error of 10 to 15%.

"For humans, we are able to calculate speed based on stride length alone with a very good degree of accuracy," Javier Ruiz said.

The authors applied their formula to estimate the speed at which the humans were travelling who left the Pleistocene era fossil trackways found in the Willandra Lakes Region of Australia.

"A previous study had made a very elaborate calculation of their speed but the results were as high as if they had been professional athletes" Ruiz explained. His results show a reasonable sprint pace.

In order to come up with their equation, Ruiz and Torices compared the data obtained in the experiments with the students with data from professional athletes who compete in 100 and 400-metre races.

Up to now, the individual's leg length or at least an estimate of the length was required to calculate speed based on tracks. An equation formulated by the British zoologist Robert McNeil Alexander in 1976 was used which he based solely on data obtained from his children running.

Ruiz and Torices measured the speed and stride length of the students as they ran along the beach and applied Alexander's equation. "The data fit with the equation very well," Ruiz explained, "Alexander did a good job with very little statistical data but with a large mathematical basis and we have seen empirically that his equation is correct."

The speed of elite athletes

In the case of the athletes, the researchers had data on speed and stride length but not limb length, which led Ruiz to modify the equation so that this piece of data was not needed. "There was a very good degree of accuracy with the new equation with a 15% margin of error, even better than the equation that was generally used whose margin of error was 50%."

In addition, the calculation works perfectly well both whether the individuals are running or walking and this was very surprising according to Ruiz. "There is a little more variability in running but even so it works very well."

Despite that fact that the speed calculation is very accurate, Ruiz admits that it cannot be applied in an absolute and unequivocal manner but rather statistically. "Strangely, sometimes 400 and 100-metre athletes have the same stride length but run at different speeds. What the body does is try to optimise how energy is used at a given speed."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by FECYT - Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Javier Ruiz, Angιlica Torices. Humans Running at Stadiums and Beaches and the Accuracy of Speed Estimations from Fossil Trackways. Ichnos, 2013; 20 (1): 31 DOI: 10.1080/10420940.2012.759115

Cite This Page:

FECYT - Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology. "Formula can calculate a person's speed by just looking at their footprints." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 22 April 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130422101256.htm>.
FECYT - Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology. (2013, April 22). Formula can calculate a person's speed by just looking at their footprints. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 22, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130422101256.htm
FECYT - Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology. "Formula can calculate a person's speed by just looking at their footprints." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130422101256.htm (accessed December 22, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Monday, December 22, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Touch-Free Smart Phone Empowers Mobility-Impaired

Touch-Free Smart Phone Empowers Mobility-Impaired

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Dec. 21, 2014) — A touch-free phone developed in Israel enables the mobility-impaired to operate smart phones with just a movement of the head. Suzannah Butcher reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Earthworms Provide Cancer-Fighting Bacteria

Earthworms Provide Cancer-Fighting Bacteria

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Dec. 21, 2014) — Polish scientists isolate bacteria from earthworm intestines which they say may be used in antibiotics and cancer treatments. Suzannah Butcher reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Existing Chemical Compounds Could Revive Failing Antibiotics, Says Danish Scientist

Existing Chemical Compounds Could Revive Failing Antibiotics, Says Danish Scientist

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Dec. 21, 2014) — A team of scientists led by Danish chemist Jorn Christensen says they have isolated two chemical compounds within an existing antipsychotic medication that could be used to help a range of failing antibiotics work against killer bacterial infections, such as Tuberculosis. Jim Drury went to meet him. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Hugging It Out Could Help You Ward Off A Cold

Hugging It Out Could Help You Ward Off A Cold

Newsy (Dec. 21, 2014) — Carnegie Mellon researchers found frequent hugs can help people avoid stress-related illnesses. Video provided by Newsy
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:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

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