Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Bolt is fast, but humans can still go faster, perhaps 9.44 (WIRED)

As astonishing as Usain Bolt's record-breaking 100-meter sprint was, his time of 9.69 seconds is nowhere near what biostatisticians predict is the natural limit for the human body.
clipped from blog.wired.com

Statisticians have used a lower limit for 100-meter times at about 9.45 seconds, according to Tabata and other researchers. The exponential curve seen above -- which is drawn from an equation calculated to fit the world record data -- had been quite successful at predicting the steady progress of faster and faster 100-meter times. But Bolt's recent string of world records was
clearly not an expected event: The model didn't predict a
9.69 until almost 2030.

"With this new data, [the predicted fastest 100-meter time] would probably go down a little bit," said Reza Noubary, a mathematician at Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania and author of a textbook on statistics and sports. He had previously calculated an "ultimate record" of 9.44 seconds for the 100 meter.

"Bolt is an outlier. He's enormous," Weyand said. "Typically when you get someone that big, they can't start."

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