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Jesse Owens starting the 200 meter race at the 1936 Olympics. Reproduction of photograph in “Die Olympischen Spiele, 1936” p.27, 1936. 

Coverage of the recent victory of the New Zealand team in the America’s Cup yacht race featured sailboats flying along on their underwater foils at ridiculous speed, speeds reaching more than 50 miles (80 km) per hour. Whether it’s running, or driving a car, or sailing these mutant boats, speed is exciting.Read the rest “Speed Limits”

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The human body converts the energy contained in food to mechanical output with an efficiency that may surprise you — it’s that low. What goes on at the gym reflects this. A person dedicated to keeping reasonably physically fit might use a rowing machine, an elliptical trainer, or a stationary bicycle. These machines usually provide readouts that show how much work the user is doing, and how many Calories she is burning. Checking the numbers now and then helps pass the time, and may provide a little reward at the end.Read the rest “The Inefficiency of Humans”