LiveScience: Need for Speed: New Series Explores World’s Fastest Things

Peter Weyand (right) trackside at SMU

LiveScience covered the research of SMU biomechanics researcher Peter G. Weyand, who was featured on an episode of the PBS series “NOVA.” NOVA host David Pogue explored the biological and physical limits of speed on the Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2013 broadcast, “Making Stuff: Faster.”

Weyand, associate professor of applied physiology and biomechanics in SMU’s Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education and Human Development, is one of the world’s leading scholars on the scientific basis of human performance. His research on the importance of ground forces for running speed established a contemporary understanding that spans the scientific and athletic communities.

In particular, his finding that speed athletes are not able to reposition their legs more rapidly than non-athletes debunked a widespread, but baseless belief. Rather, Weyand and colleagues demonstrated sprinting performance is largely set by the force with which one presses against the ground and how long one applies that force.

This work provided the understanding that enabled Weyand and colleagues to investigate the influence of prosthetic limbs on sprint running performance.

“The NOVA segment demonstrates the power of science to identify and improve performance capabilities. This is particularly exciting in an era in which electronic technologies allow discoveries to be applied quickly, broadly and on mobile platforms,” Weyand says. “I believe we are on the cusp of an unprecedented opportunity to responsibly and effectively advance performance training tools and practices.”

Read the article.

EXCERPT:

By Tanya Lewis
LiveScience

From building the world’s fastest cars, trucks and boats to rooting for Olympic sprinter Usain Bolt, humans are obsessed with speed.

In the premiere of the new NOVA series “Making Stuff,” which airs tonight at 9 p.m. EDT/8 p.m. CDT on PBS, host and technology columnist David Pogue takes viewers on a whirlwind tour of the world’s fastest things.

In the show, Pogue burns rubber in a souped-up electric car, zooms from house to house delivering packages and flies above the waves on the sailboat that won this year’s America’s Cup. […]

[…] Next, Pogue journeys to Southern Methodist University in Dallas to test out his sprinting chops. In the lab of physiologist Peter Weyand, researchers study the biomechanics of running and other sports. With the world’s fastest treadmill, a multidimensional force sensor and top-of-the-line motion-capture video systems, Weyand and his colleagues study what makes people run fast. Surprisingly, fast runners aren’t distinguished by their leg movements, Weyand said, but rather how hard they hit the ground. “Elite sprinters will hit with forces four to five times their body weight,” he told LiveScience. […]

Read the article.

SMU is a nationally ranked private university in Dallas founded 100 years ago. Today, SMU enrolls nearly 11,000 students who benefit from the academic opportunities and international reach of seven degree-granting schools. For more information see www.smu.edu.

SMU has an uplink facility located on campus for live TV, radio, or online interviews. To speak with an SMU expert or book an SMU guest in the studio, call SMU News & Communications at 214-768-7650.

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