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Re: Olympic data

Having worked national meets on down through high school , human reaction
time doesn't factor in anymore on the timing side. If you watch closely at
the Olympics, you will see the starting sun has electronic gadgets attached
with wires leading out. One of these goes to the computer that starts the
timing system as the gun is fired. Then the finish is with pictures
triggered by athletes crossing the finish and on the computer, the
corresponding time down to the 10,000ths can be read. Times are only
reported to the 100ths though and by rule ties can be broken by looking at
only the 1000ths so far.

Ludwik Kowalski <kowalskil@MAIL.MONTCLAIR.EDU> said:

Yes, experimental errors in measuring time intervals (microseconds?),
are likely to be very small in comparison with runtime differences
between close competitors (milliseconds). I was thinking about the
random nature of human reaction times between 0 and ~0.3 seconds. To
eliminate that kind of randomness one could define the start time as a
moment at which the first laser beam is interrupted. The second beam,
for example, one hundred meters away, would then be used to determine
the ending moment. Each runner would run alone, like in jumping
competitions. Would such suggestion be taken seriously?
Ludwik Kowalski

On Tuesday, Aug 24, 2004, at 13:02 America/New_York, Brian Whatcott

At 07:25 AM 8/24/2004, you wrote:
Athletes are often ranked on the basis of experimental measurements of
time intervals. My impression is that differences between some
are too small to be meaningful.
Ludwik Kowalski

In order to dish out medals, it is necessary to answer the questions,
Who made the shortest time, the highest jump, the longest distance,
got the most points?

A photo finish could resolve those questions that were not obvious,
I expect.

But then, there's the spectator question,
Was this a World record? A tape measure or time measurement
often gets to resolve this question. I believe it is rare to find
experimental error is close to the magnitude of the differences
sought in this respect.

Brian Whatcott Altus OK Eureka!

Julie Hilsenteger
Physics Teacher
Centennial High School
3505 SE 182nd
Gresham, OR 97030