In 2008, the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) banned double amputee Oscar Pistorius from racing in the 2008 Summer Olympics. Later that same year, the ban was reversed. The back and forth centered on Pistorius' specially designed, spring-loaded, prosthetic legs. The IAAF argued that artificial legs designed especially for running gave Pistorius an unfair advantage against runners whose flesh-and-blood limbs didn't benefit from advanced engineering and space-age materials.
While an MIT study last year eventually led to the overturn of the original IAAF decision, no one had done a systematic study of amputee racers in general. Now, the MIT researchers that investigated Pistorius have released the results of a wider trial, and it turns out that specially designed prostheses don't actually help sprinters.
“Faster. Stronger. Higher.” Michael Phelps brought unwanted attention to his interpretation of the last word of the Olympic motto, so the swimming world is probably happy to shift focus back to the ongoing controversy regarding “faster.”
Olympic cheaters better hide those gold medals deep in their sock drawer. The International Olympic Committee has confirmed they will begin retesting samples from Beijing, just months after the flame was extinguished.
Brett Zarda looks at the athletes, the water, and the technology
By Brett ZardaPosted 08.18.2008 at 12:30 pm 4 Comments
Every four years, we watch. We marvel at badminton and wonder about the modern decathlon. With more than 300 gold medals awarded across 37 disciplines, our lives are suddenly much less productive. To aid in your immersion, we continue with our daily edition of "know your Olympic sport," by answering some and posing some questions about the science of Michael Phelps (and swimming).
Swifter suits, shoes that lean and gaming the pistol are just the beginning of the tech innovations giving track the runaround this summer
By Brett ZardaPosted 08.11.2008 at 3:17 pm 0 Comments
Every four years, we watch. We marvel at badminton, wonder about the modern decathlon and proudly pause for synchronized swimming. With more than 300 gold medals awarded across 37 disciplines, the next two weeks of our lives should be impressively unproductive. To aid in your immersion, we continue with our new series: "know your Olympic sport." It's part reminder that people actually get medals for this stuff (see: trampoline gymnastics) and part introduction to the science behind the sports.
In our second installment, we leave the ping pong balls on the porch and head to the track. Inside you'll find shoes that don't match, a suit not made by Speedo, an excuse for why you never won races in high school; along with a plea for some better technology. Andalé!
Reports indicate that the Chinese government is planning to spy on its Olympic guests
By Brett ZardaPosted 07.30.2008 at 11:10 am 6 Comments
How do you say "Big Brother" in Chinese? Visitors to the Beijing Olympics need to be careful what they email (and what websites they peruse) according to Senator Sam Brownback, the senior Republican from Kansas. Based on hotel documents, Brownback alleges that the Chinese government has spent millions of dollars installing spy software in major hotel chains to monitor its guests' email and web surfing.
"The Chinese government has put in place a system to spy on and gather information about every guest at hotels where Olympic visitors are staying," said Brownback.
New nanoscale anti-doping technology to sniff human growth hormone in urine
By Brett ZardaPosted 07.30.2008 at 10:34 am 1 Comment
Virginia company Ceres Nanosciences claims it has the first drug test capable of detecting human growth hormone in an athlete's urine. Validation of the test will require at least six months, meaning cheaters in the 2008 Olympics need not be concerned. The test claims it could detect HGH usage up to two weeks prior to testing, unlike blood tests, which can monitor only the past 48 hours.
A new audio profiling system helps Olympic shooters perfect their timing
By Brett ZardaPosted 07.24.2008 at 1:03 pm 1 Comment
In Olympic shooting, athletes have to think fast and shoot faster. The double trap event involves two clay targets fired simultaneously at 50 miles per hour at different angles, so getting off both shots quickly, and in the proper rhythm, is incredibly important. But how fast is fast enough? The British Shooting Team brought that question to the scientists at BAE Systems.
An unorthodox, highly scientific training regimen made Andy Potts the top triathlete in the country
By Arianne CohenPosted 07.20.2008 at 5:28 pm 6 Comments
At the starting dock of the Olympic triathlon trials, the expression on Andy Potts’s face seems to say I will kill you with my eyes. As the starting gun fires, he plunges into the Black Warrior River in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, and, in a burst of white foam, quickly pulls ahead of nine rivals. The second-ranked Hunter Kemper manages to hold pace with Potts for a few minutes, then drifts back into third place.