Last we heard from Boston Dynamics' Cheetah, it was coursing along at 18 miles per hour, the fastest a robot had ever run. Now, inspired perhaps by Olympic sprinters, it's cranked that up to a frightening 28.3 MPH.
Now that the Olympics are done, we can reflect on the big moments. (Usain Bolt's lightspeed 100-meter win and Michael Phelps's sunken-pirate-ship levels of gold come to mind.) But if we pull the historical camera back even farther, we can look at the big picture, seeing exactly how much of a blip on the timeline this year made. With that in mind, we've created an interactive graph that shows every gold-medal time for several events and annotations for years that were outliers, or that were just especially interesting (including tech like the Speedo LZR suit, or less-known developments like the official roughening of the javelin to handicap the competitors). It's a look at how technology, smarts, and super-human ability brought the Games to where they are now.
Part of the fun of watching the Olympics is living vicariously through your country's team. We like to think that if circumstances had been different, if we watched a little less Netflix, if our parents had just made us take gymnastics at an early age, or if we hadn't quit swimming to be a townsperson in the school musical, maybe that would be us on TV telling reporters how "speechless" and "thankful" we are to have won in front of the whole world.
World record after world record after world record
By Daniel EngberPosted 07.30.2012 at 10:02 am 2 Comments
Even if athletes never got any stronger or faster, and if their techniques and training never changed, they would still break records from time to time. That’s because the ability of each person who decides to compete, and the outcome of each competition, are affected by random processes. What happened on the way to the track that might affect the athletes’ performance? What’s the weather like? And so on. Every sporting event is a matter of chance as well as of achievement, and chance always offers the possibility of a breakthrough.
By Colin LecherPosted 05.23.2012 at 6:18 pm 12 Comments
Gary Connery broke the record today for skydiving sans parachute and also, presumably, took home a gold medal in being a badass. But that wasn’t all: The 42-year-old father-stuntman-crazy-person gave Newton’s First Law one more slap in the face by diving from 2,400 feet above Buckinghamshire, England, and straight into 18,600 cardboard boxes.
A patch of Posidonia oceanica, a species of seagrass native to the Mediterranean, has just gotten its DNA sequenced and its age determined--and as it turns out, some parts of this particular patch are up to 200,000 years old. That easily destroys the previous world record of the oldest living organism, a Tasmanian plant believed to be around 43,000 years old. Ha! A youngun!