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KERA, NOVA: SMU researcher Peter Weyand discusses the upper limits of human speed

The work of SMU biomechanics researcher Peter G. Weyand (at right in photo) was featured on an episode of the PBS series “NOVA.” Host David Pogue explored the biological and physical limits of speed on the Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2013 broadcast, “Making Stuff: Faster.”

Weyand and NOVA producer Anna Lee Strachan will discuss the research at 5:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 18, at a screening of the program in the first floor pavilion of Simmons Hall, 3101 University. Weyand also will appear on KERA Radio’s program “Think” with host Krys Boyd on Monday, Oct. 14.

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.” — Nancy George


“Think” – Monday, Oct. 14, Noon to 1 p.m. KERA Radio

  • Peter Weyand discusses the scientific future of human performance with host Krys Boyd.

“NOVA” – Wednesday, Oct. 16, 8 p.m. CST, PBS

  • Peter Weyand is featured with host David Pogue on NOVA segment, “Making Stuff: Faster.”

Screening of “Making Stuff: Faster” and discussion with Peter Weyand – Friday, Oct, 18, 5:30 p.m., first floor pavilion, Simmons Hall, 3101 University Blvd., Dallas

  • Q and A with Peter Weyand and NOVA producer Anna Lee Strachan after “Making Stuff: Faster” screening, moderated by KERA science reporter Lauren Silverman. Free and open to public, reservations at

Video from SMU’s Performance Lab: