Buckminster Skeeter: Wanna buy a watch?

Monday, February 13, 2006

Olympics

I'm a fan of the Olympics, both winter and summer games. The winter olympics are more fun for me to watch because I love to ski. I can actually appreciate the skill involved in most of the ski/snowboard events. The luge and skeleton - who doesn't think it'd be fun as shit to do 80mph on a 2ft x 4ft 'sled' shooting down a frozen half pipe. Bobsledding is cool. Curling seems boring at first but I warmed up to it. It'd be cool to make it to the Olympics and possibly win a Gold Medal as the 'brush guy'. He walks in front of the stone brushing the ice to help the stone speed up or turn. What an amazing talent. Hockey is ok but the Ruskies or Canadians usually whip everyone. Figure skating should be banned as it is not a 'sport' in my opinion. It's a dance on ice - extremely difficult, sure - but not a sport. The various ski jumping events are way cool. I've always been impressed by the balls it would take to launch yourself 50-70 ft in the air while you twist, tuck, turn, and spin on skiis. Or the big ski jump where they look like they're flying on skiis. So cool. So ballsy.

While watching the Men's Downhill yesterday something occured to me that is very perplexing. The course starts at 8,812 ft. above sealevel, has a vertical drop of 2,624 ft, and covers a distance of 2.05 miles. There were 50 or so racers varying in height, weight, ski brand, line (the path they ski), and form. They take into account snow condition, ice, grade, angles, jumps, flags, wind, and sun. Yet 50 different racers finished this course within 10 seconds of each other. The top 5 looked like this: 1:48.80; 1:49.52; 1:49.82; 1:49.88; 1:49.93. To me it would make sense if they were racing at the same time but they go individually. I can't help but wonder how they have such mind-bogglingly close times. Is there a human limit for such a thing? Is there something in the physics which limit the time it takes for a human to travel 2 miles downhill on skiis. Some of them made mistakes (the commentators point this out) and yet they still finish in line with another skiier who apparently skiis flawlessly. I can't seem to grasp how this works out. Some olympic records have stood for decades and yet they are only 1/100ths of seconds better than others. People spend their entire careers trying to find a way to get that extra .01 second. Amazing. I'm happy when I leave the slope with no broken bones.

Of course this is true for all sports where the competitors race individually. When racing the other competitors at the same time they run in packs, try to get in front of each other, draft, or what-have-you. Makes sense how they'd finish so close. Wathc some of the events which do not require points from judges on form, style, or technique. These are always based on opinion and taste.

5 Comments:

Blogger Dr. Metal said...

I don't share your fondness for the Olympics. It would be difficult for me to care less about them. Does that make me unpatriotic?

But anyway. What I don't understand is the nationality of coaches. Why is there no requirement for a coach to be of the nationality that he coaches? Remember Kerri Shruggs (or whatever) and her coach Boris Karinkliov (or whatever). Some kids were in my apartment the other day so I just so happened to catch a glance of the ski-jumping after the Bud Shootout. The Russian jumper had a German coach. Does this seem askew? It does to me, so I'm going to boycott.

12:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't really get how they judge these events precisely - I've never really watched the winter games - don't know much about it. The physics involved would probably be more in line with classical mechanics rather than relativity, however the two don't contradict each other when dealing with objects at normal speeds. Relativity reproduces Newtonian mechanics at low speeds, but describes phenomena more accurately at higher speeds.

I have just recently realized that my brain has been on hiatus for about seven years. I'm sure I could muster something else here had I been using my noggin.That's a lot of time to waste. I may look into taking an online course here soon.

An interesting fact: Einstein wanted to call his theory of relativity the "theory of invariants". If he had gotten his way the confusion that has surrounded relativity may have been avoided. It has nothing to do with the vague statement that "everything is relative". That would be relativism. I would venture to guess that there are not a whole lot of people that truly understand relativity, and hell no, I'm not one of them.

12:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, by the way, this is the former mugwump. I deleted my blog again - just one of my idiosyncrasies. I don't really like the idea of just anyone reading my thoughts (even though there would be a slim chance of someone just happening upon that blog). I couldn't be a famous person. I'd go nuts with people in my business all the time.Absolutely insane. I'd murder folks. And I also came to the realization that if I can take time to write stuff for a blog I can continue my education. Especially now that online courses are available. I am a jack-of-all trades, so to speak. You wouldn't believe how many courses I have completed - but with no direction whatsoever. English, creative writing, sociology and psychology (that's when I was planning on becoming a marriage counselor- I shudder at the thought now) tons of science courses, shyed away from math but took the basic ones so I could take the science courses I wanted to take. Even some paralegal courses.

1:02 PM  
Blogger Buckminster Skeeter said...

I don't think it makes anyone 'unpatriotic' to not watch the games. I just like the competition.

Classical physics is always in play. I guess we could blame terminal velocity values, friction, force, etc if all things were equal- But to me that doesn't account for human error - tiny things like angle of knee bend, wind friction on an untucked arm, too little pressure on the downhill ski on a sharp turn, etc. With all these variables it's crazy that the times are still so close.

1:03 PM  
Blogger mugwump said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

2:32 PM  

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