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For centuries the seas around Scotland were notorious for shipwrecks. Mariners' only aids were skill, luck, Mariners' only aids were skill, luck, and single coal-fire light on the east coast, which was usually extinguished by rain. At that point, his mind pulls completely away from them. The white strip indicating the finish line is the only thing in his line of vision. He has nothing at all left in the tank, but somewhere deep down in his gut he finds a drop of gas he never knew was there and seizes on it, forcing it into his afterburner and feeling it ignite.

But Hayes reacts, too.


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Energized by his lead, his adrenal glands give up their final wisp of epinephrine and wring the last measure of power out of his nearly spent muscles. The final stride that carries him to the finish line is his thirty-ninth step of the race.

It takes a high-speed camera to determine that he won, by a hundredth of a second. His time of 8. On the face of it, a time of 8. Nobody familiar with the sport of running would believe that such a time is even remotely feasible, nor is a top speed of It is feasible. But to do so we have to go back to the beginning and ask a question. For the remaining 40 or so meters, they just try to slow down as little as possible.

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Category Biomechanics, human kinetics

That can happen if you come out of the blocks a little earlier than he did or accelerate more quickly or decelerate less at the end. Add just another 30 meters, though, and the horse would leave the human in the dust. Whatever top speed is reached in the fastest possible meters is going to be the top speed reachable, period.

What will that speed be? Using purely statistical methods, some scientists have developed models that predict the theoretically fastest possible meter times. While that might sound like some dubious speculation, three things make those models fairly credible. The first is that several different researchers who arrived at their conclusions independently of one another are in very close agreement.

Being able to predict things is the hallmark of a good scientific theory, and the more far-out the prediction, the better it makes the theory look if the prediction works. By doing nothing more than sitting in his study, Albert Einstein came up with the theory of relativity, which other scientists had a hard time believing.

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One of the things the theory predicted was that light could be bent by gravity, which nobody believed, either. Fourteen years after the theory was published, a British scientist named Arthur Eddington took advantage of a full eclipse to see what would happen to light from a star as it passed close to the sun on its way to earth. Not only did the powerful gravity of the sun bend the light, it did it by the precise amount Einstein had predicted. Eddington sent a famous telegram to the Royal Astronomical Society that read Relativity is right!

The third reason we have for trusting the statistical models is perhaps the most compelling of all. We know the exact meter split times for pretty much every major race since. This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue? Upload Sign In Join. Save For Later. Create a List. Read on the Scribd mobile app Download the free Scribd mobile app to read anytime, anywhere. Publisher Introduction Finding the Limits Are there absolute limits in sports? Was Sir Roger a fluke?

Some sort of one-off freak of nature?

The reason for the limits may vary, but there will always be reasons why there are limits. Chapter One Raw Speed How fast can a human run? Running has ceased to be very useful in modern society. At 20 meters, he sees the other runners in his peripheral vision. Why does meters produce the fastest speed? Start your free 30 days.

Page 1 of 1. Close Dialog Are you sure? Also remove everything in this list from your library. Ben Hogan's Secret Fundamental. Larry Miller. The Fundamentals of Quitting Golf. David Divot. Golf for Smarties not dummies. Javier Hume. Putting My Way. Brian Smith. John D. The Simple Golf Swing. Gene Grossman. How to Make Every Putt. Joseph Parent.

The Perfection Point: Predicting the Absolute Limits of Human Performance by John Brenkus

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