HOW quickly would Usain Bolt have run the 100 metres at the Beijing Olympics if he hadn't slowed in celebration before the finish line? A team of physicists have calculated an answer: the Jamaican gold medallist could have slashed his time from 9.69 seconds to 9.55 seconds.

In the final 20 metres of the race on 16 August, Bolt extended his arms and thumped his chest in celebration, slowing himself a little. But he still broke the world record he himself had set in May.

Hans Eriksen of the Institute of Theoretical Astrophysics at the University of Oslo, Norway, and his colleagues, who normally spend their time pondering deep mysteries of the cosmos, wondered whether a few simple calculations might reveal how fast Bolt could have run.

So, in their spare time, they used television footage to measure Bolt's positions, speeds and accelerations as well as those of the runner-up, Richard Thompson. Their measurements show both Bolt and Thompson decelerating in the final 2 seconds of the race, with a larger drop in speed for Bolt.

The team then calculated what Bolt's time would have been had he only slowed down as much as Thompson, arriving at an answer of 9.61 seconds. But this may be too conservative, given how much Bolt outperformed Thompson in the first 8 seconds of the race. So the team also tried assuming, somewhat arbitrarily, that Bolt would have decelerated less than Thompson, by 0.5 metres per second squared in the final 2 seconds, which they say would have given Bolt a time of 9.55 seconds.

It is difficult to get precise measurements from ordinary TV footage, which records at 30 frames per second or less, says Matthew Bundle of the University of Wyoming in Laramie, who studies human locomotion. More precise human motion studies rely on cameras operating at 125 to 250 frames per second, or on tracking motion with a series of light beams which get tripped as people go by, he says. However, he thinks the team's numbers are reasonable.

"We don't mean to say that this is the final and ultimate result," says Eriksen. "Instead, it's a fun application of simple physics, and we've done the best we can." The researchers have submitted their findings to the American Journal of Physics (www.arxiv.org/abs/0809.0209).

that's just crazy
the 9.61 seems more reasonable though
It doesn't surprise me at all. I'd go so far to say that 9.0 will be hit in the next decade or two. The performance of modern day athletes is getting better all the time.
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ZOMG
I seriously hope that guy is clean. If he's on drugs, athletics and sport as a whole will be anally raped by the bad publicity that will follow him (inevitably) being caught.

I don't even like athletics/sport, but I love this guy.
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He should try again.
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It doesn't surprise me at all. I'd go so far to say that 9.0 will be hit in the next decade or two. The performance of modern day athletes is getting better all the time.

yeah, it makes you wonder what is the human limit (or maybe there isn't one?)
Thats insane, he shouldnt have slowed, no one would have beaten that record for ages!

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However, he's beaten the record twice this year. That = major sponsorship.
Then if he breaks it again well...

MOAR SPONSAR!
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yeah, it makes you wonder what is the human limit (or maybe there isn't one?)

There has to be one. It's not like anyones ever gonna run it in 5secs is it
Quote by sam b
There has to be one. It's not like anyones ever gonna run it in 5secs is it

Well obviously, but with timers getting more and more accurate and athletes getting taller (longer legs so greater strides, Bolt is 2 meters tall btw) records will still be broken for a long time.
When the limit is reached, lets say for example its 8 seconds, what then? Are they just going to not have 100m races in the olympics anymore? Because surely eventually its going to get to the stage where everyone participating is running at 8 seconds. Then what? I think even now it will be a while before anyone beats Bolt's record.

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There has to be one. It's not like anyones ever gonna run it in 5secs is it

You'd be amazed what steriods can do
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Quote by saphrax
It doesn't surprise me at all. I'd go so far to say that 9.0 will be hit in the next decade or two. The performance of modern day athletes is getting better all the time.

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at the 1968 Olympics, in Mexico City, he won silver in the 100m. His time in the final was 10.04sec, which should have been good enough to earn him gold - but America's Jim Hines ran Miller down to win in an astonishing 9.95

hmm, i dunno. 40 years to get 0.26sec off the time. Could be a while yet
to do it in 9 seconds would require an average of 24.85mph but i don't think they even reach top speed until ~4 seconds in. so i imagine top speed would have to be 30mph+ which is... possible i suppose.

edit: the top speed necessary for 9 seconds given 4 seconds constant acceleration time is 31.96mph (rounded to 2dp).
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I can run the 100 metres in 18.4 seconds. They asked me to run for England in the olympics, but I said I wanted to do something else with my life.
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hmm, i dunno. 40 years to get 0.26sec off the time. Could be a while yet

By my calculations, it will take about 135 years, if 0.26 seconds are taken off every 40 years

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It doesn't surprise me at all. I'd go so far to say that 9.0 will be hit in the next decade or two. The performance of modern day athletes is getting better all the time.

Doubtful.

Jim Hines set a 9.95 in 1968 mexico olympics.

In 1999 Maurice Greene of USA set 9.79

In 2005 Asafa Powell of Jamaica beat that to a 9.74

In 2008 Usain Bolt set a 9.69 at olympics

A difference of 0.26s in 40 years. So let's say that eventually Usain Bolt will set 9.59 (0.1 faster). 0.36s in 40 years. Saying that another 0.5 will be shaved off in the next 10-20 years is pretty ludicrous. I'd be shocked if anyone else other than Bolt in the next 10-20 years even sets a 9.6
Quote by MustangSVT
Doubtful.

Jim Hines set a 9.95 in 1968 mexico olympics.

In 1999 Maurice Greene of USA set 9.79

In 2005 Asafa Powell of Jamaica beat that to a 9.74

In 2008 Usain Bolt set a 9.69 at olympics

A difference of 0.26s in 40 years. So let's say that eventually Usain Bolt will set 9.59 (0.1 faster). 0.36s in 40 years. Saying that another 0.5 will be shaved off in the next 10-20 years is pretty ludicrous. I'd be shocked if anyone else other than Bolt in the next 10-20 years even sets a 9.6

But our advances in science, health and biology are increasing exponentially.
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But our advances in science, health and biology are increasing exponentially.

Basically you've put my argument forward already.
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"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.

From the same article...
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Quote by rabidguitarist
But our advances in science, health and biology are increasing exponentially.

What does science have to do with it? Look at this page:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_record_progression_100_metres_men

100 years ago someone did a 10.6. So we've progressed 1 second in 100 years. Logic dictates that the faster/better it gets, the harder it will be to improve and the smaller the gains will be. My guess is that the absolute best someone could run is like a 9.4. That's with extremely perfect physique, and let's say a tailwind too and let's say this person trained at high altitude and it's the olympics somewhere lower altitude and this person is breathing in a lot of oxygen. There's no way any human will ever do a 9.0. Not without some sort of substance or mechanical advantage.
this is called extrapolation because there is no hard data to support. they're just saying that based on the curve that's apparent already.

edit: to the graph, obviously.
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What does science have to do with it? Look at this page:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_record_progression_100_metres_men

100 years ago someone did a 10.6. So we've progressed 1 second in 100 years. Logic dictates that the faster/better it gets, the harder it will be to improve and the smaller the gains will be. My guess is that the absolute best someone could run is like a 9.4. That's with extremely perfect physique, and let's say a tailwind too and let's say this person trained at high altitude and it's the olympics somewhere lower altitude and this person is breathing in a lot of oxygen. There's no way any human will ever do a 9.0. Not without some sort of substance or mechanical advantage.

Because more knowledge about diets, drugs, health, medicine, means better physical fitness, reflexes and faster brains.
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Also look at it this way. The record in 1999 was 9.79. look at the olympic results.

1 2163 BOLT Usain Jamaica Aug 21 1986 4 0.165 9.69 WR
2 3025 THOMPSON Richard Trinidad/Tobago Jun 07 1985 5 0.133 9.89 PB
3 3282 DIX Walter United States Jan 31 1986 6 0.133 9.91 PB
4 1003 MARTINA Churandy Neth. Antilles Jul 03 1984 9 0.169 9.93 NR
5 2142 POWELL Asafa Jamaica Nov 23 1982 7 0.134 9.95
6 2148 FRATER Michael Jamaica Oct 06 1982 2 0.147 9.97 PB
7 3019 BURNS Marc Trinidad/Tobago Jan 07 1983 8 0.145 10.01
8 3215 PATTON Darvis United States Dec 04 1977 3 0.142 10.03

The next guy did a 9.89 which is 0.1 slower than the record from 10 years ago.

What some of you people are trying to say is that there will be more and more people doing 9.6's in the next 10 years. It's not gonna happen, you can quote me on that.
Quote by MustangSVT
Doubtful.

Jim Hines set a 9.95 in 1968 mexico olympics.

In 1999 Maurice Greene of USA set 9.79

In 2005 Asafa Powell of Jamaica beat that to a 9.74

In 2008 Usain Bolt set a 9.69 at olympics

A difference of 0.26s in 40 years. So let's say that eventually Usain Bolt will set 9.59 (0.1 faster). 0.36s in 40 years. Saying that another 0.5 will be shaved off in the next 10-20 years is pretty ludicrous. I'd be shocked if anyone else other than Bolt in the next 10-20 years even sets a 9.6

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ZOMG
I seriously hope that guy is clean. If he's on drugs, athletics and sport as a whole will be anally raped by the bad publicity that will follow him (inevitably) being caught.

I don't even like athletics/sport, but I love this guy.

It's survived ok so far, and the mens 100m has had more doping scandals than just about any event, peaking in the late 80's

Think about the finish of the 1988 100M final
1. Ben Johnson (CAN)
2. Carl Lewis (USA)
3. Linford Christie (GBR)

All three of the medal winners later tested positive for various substances, it was the Olympics where everyone was on the juice
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Well, they don't call him Bolt for nothing...

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What does science have to do with it? Look at this page:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_record_progression_100_metres_men

100 years ago someone did a 10.6. So we've progressed 1 second in 100 years. Logic dictates that the faster/better it gets, the harder it will be to improve and the smaller the gains will be. My guess is that the absolute best someone could run is like a 9.4. That's with extremely perfect physique, and let's say a tailwind too and let's say this person trained at high altitude and it's the olympics somewhere lower altitude and this person is breathing in a lot of oxygen. There's no way any human will ever do a 9.0. Not without some sort of substance or mechanical advantage.

That wouldn't change a thing as a 100m sprint is purely anaerobic meaning no oxygen is needed to provide energy to muscles. AT ALL.
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When the limit is reached, lets say for example its 8 seconds, what then? Are they just going to not have 100m races in the olympics anymore? Because surely eventually its going to get to the stage where everyone participating is running at 8 seconds. Then what? I think even now it will be a while before anyone beats Bolt's record.

You'd be amazed what steriods can do

the olympics isn't about records but the race itself. whoever wins wins. its not like they'll stop because the record can never be beaten.

as for Bolt, i wish i could have seen how fast he could have done. in the interview during the Games, he mentioned "I don't care about the record, i was just in to run and win"

seems a little arrogant, i would like to see him push himself harder, because that's more or less what track an field is about: doing your best.
Quote by dudius
the olympics isn't about records but the race itself. whoever wins wins. its not like they'll stop because the record can never be beaten.

as for Bolt, i wish i could have seen how fast he could have done. in the interview during the Games, he mentioned "I don't care about the record, i was just in to run and win"

seems a little arrogant, i would like to see him push himself harder, because that's more or less what track an field is about: doing your best.

Well, when theres a 100,000 dollar prize fro every track and field world record broken, I'm not surprised he eased off at the end. Its easy cash.
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yeah, it makes you wonder what is the human limit (or maybe there isn't one?)

it will eventually approach a limit somewhere because most people cant just teleport 100 meters in ledss than a second... maybe an 8 second 100 meter will be the absolute limit for all of time?
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Well, when theres a 100,000 dollar prize fro every track and field world record broken, I'm not surprised he eased off at the end. Its easy cash.

Back in the iron curtain days there was a Soviet pole vaulter (someone remember his name) who was way ahead of the curve and kept breaking his own world records. At international meets he'd break the record then request that the bar be gradually raised in 20mm increments so that he could break it as many times as possible.
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However, he's beaten the record twice this year. That = major sponsorship.
Then if he breaks it again well...

MOAR SPONSAR!

He's already making millions, just like Phelps.

And if he can break it to 9.55 he will. Only the Olympic record is limited to the Olympics (of course).