Much of the debate on the place of advanced prostheses for the disabled in competitive sports often downplays arguably the most important perspective: that of the athletes who couldn't compete without them. In light of the recent MIT research project that found prosthetic limbs offering no advantage over natural legs, sprinter and double Cheetah leg user Aimee Mullins has some even more thought-provoking (and first-hand) analysis of the issue.
It's getting much harder to cheat at sports these days. Urine tests have been re-calibrated to look for the cream and the clear, blood tests check for the presence of excessive oxygen, and you spitballers? Yeah, they're on to you, too. But a new breakthrough in gene therapy may allow athletes to skip the steroids in favor of adding muscles from the DNA up.
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.
Yamaha's air-shock snowmobile lets adventurers explore more territory
By Mark AndersPosted 10.29.2009 at 10:21 am 2 Comments
The 2010 snowmobile season, which begins this month, will see daredevils in places they couldn't reach before: in deeper powder, on remote cliffs, squeezing between trees. That's because the first full air-suspension sled swaps the usual heavy steel coils for air-filled shock absorbers, creating a smoother, 20-pounds-lighter machine. Riders can easily steer the FX Nytro MTX SE 162 with their weight, glide it nearly drag-free through powder, and unstick it from drifts.
The first time I read that running can turn your toenails black or even make them fall off, I knew I'd found the limit to my dedication to the sport. I'll run through achey joints, sore muscles and most blisters, but toenails are sacrosanct, a permanent part of my body. Fortunately, mine have survived my handful of marathons entirely intact and properly colored.
Some, however, are being preempting the problem.
While it lacks the subtle charm of Alberto Tomba, this robot is just as much at ease flying down a slalom course. Designed by Bojan Nemec of the the Jozef Stefan Institute in Slovenia, the robot utilizes two computers to stay upright and pointed downhill.
In an earlier column, I suggested that shoe reviews are often not worth much, since everyone is so different. Well, that's exactly the logic behind the Somnio shoe I'm about to give a positive review. Somnio is the brainchild of Sean Sullivan, a long-time gear designer who created a shoe with modular parts, so you (or rather, the trained guy at the shoe store) can dial in just the right arch support and cushioning for your stride.
Polar bears starving, corals dying, ice shelves melting--climate change is wrecking the world around us. But there's an upside if you're a fan of the Australian cricket team. Global warming may increase your odds of beating arch rival England.
Here at PopSci, we love when our leading-edge reporting on the seemingly unbelievable, futuristic developments in science and tech end up, well, becoming reality. We reported three and a half years ago on d3o, the elastic polymer that's flexible at rest but stiffens instantly in response to an impact, first found in a soft winter beanie that protects like a helmet. Now, it can be found in 107 products made by 22 different companies, ranging from iPod cases to polo kneepads.