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The Buzz: Hitting the Human Wall

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Human athletic performance has the consistent ability to amaze us–we tend to think of the Michael Phelpses and Lance Armstrongs of the world as nearly superhuman. But in fact, there are physiological limits to our species’ strength and speed. On Starts With a Bang, Ethan Siegel calculates the fastest time theoretically possible for the mens’ 100 meter dash, which Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt recently finished in a record 9.58 seconds at a championship race in Berlin. If men continue to increase their speed along the exponential path as mapped by Ethan, we can expect them to reach this limit around 2100–unless, as the graph also depicts, another statistical outlier like Usain Bolt comes along sooner. On Terra Sigillata, Abel Pharmboy also discusses the growing numbers of seniors taking part in running competitions, and how regular medication might affect their performance.

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