Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Speed of Sound Is Too Slow For the Olympics

Unknown Lamer posted more than 2 years ago | from the whose-phone-was-that dept.

News 255

Hugh Pickens "For decades sports-event organizers have placed speakers behind athletes to convey the sound of an actual pistol but they found that even though the noise came through the speakers all at once, athletes continued to wait for the 'real' sound, ignoring the sounds that came through the speakers ever-so-slightly slowing down the farthest athlete from the gun. Now Rebecca Rosen writes that when the Olympic runners take to their positions on the track later this week, they'll crouch on the ground, ears pricked, and wait for the starting beep played by a 'pistol' that's not a pistol at all, but something more akin to an electronic instrument with only one key. The pistol itself is silent." Read on for a bit more about the difficulties of timing people with superhuman reaction times."A conversation with sprinter Michael Johnson at the Sydney Olympics caused Peter Hürzeler of OMEGA Timing to realize that even with speakers, the speed of sound was still slowing down the farthest athletes. Johnson's reaction time, Hurzeler said, 'was 440 thousandths of a second. Normally athletes leave between 130 and 140 thousandths of a second. ... I asked him, why did you have such a bad starting time?' Turned out, Johnson was in the ninth position, and the sound of the gun was reaching him too slowly.

"In addition after a four year developmental process, a new false start detection system is being introduced this year that will abandon movement in exchange for 'measurement' of pound-force against the back block to determine sprinters reaction times. 'We are measuring the time between the starting gun and when the athlete is moving because to leave the starting block they had to push against and this power is very high' says Hurzeler. 'We did a test last year with Asafa Powell and he was pushing 240 kilograms (529 lbs.) [so] as soon as he gives the time to push against the starting block, it means he will like to leave and we are measuring this in thousandths of seconds and if somebody is leaving before one hundredth thousandth of second, it's automatically a recall, it's a false start.' In track every event is timed to 1/10,000th of a second, and Omega takes 2,000 pictures per second from right before the start of a race to its finish, as backup.

"New touch pads, starting blocks, and timers have also been introduced for swimming."

cancel ×

255 comments

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

I call bullshit. (0, Troll)

ledow (319597) | more than 2 years ago | (#40840729)

Speed of sound is 330 m/s. That's a kilometer in a third of a second.

440 thousandths of a second = 0.44 of a second.
140 thousandths of a second = 0.14 of a second.

The difference: let's call it a third of a second.

So what they are claiming is that the starting pistol is 1km away from the athlete in the last lane but right next to the one in the first lane.

Over and above that - the reaction time is not the factor, so much as the fact that the RACE is measured to within hundredths of a second making the difference between 1st and 3rd sometimes. Thus even a slightly more "gravellyness" on the track in one lane or a tiny, tiny breeze might affect it.

Re:I call bullshit. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40840775)

Speed * time is distance, not speed / time. You're off by an order of magnitude. The argument stands though.

Re:I call bullshit. (5, Informative)

NormalVisual (565491) | more than 2 years ago | (#40840789)

Speed of sound is 330 m/s. That's a kilometer in a third of a second.

That's a kilometer in three seconds.

Re:I call bullshit. (2)

J Isaksson (721660) | more than 2 years ago | (#40840791)

Actually, it's one kilometer in 3 seconds, not 1/3.

Re:I call bullshit. (1)

dow (7718) | more than 2 years ago | (#40840797)

Speed of sound is 330m/s yes, but thats a kilometer in ~3 seconds. You Americans still don't get this metric stuff do you. In a third of a second, you are looking at 110meters, so a third of a second delay in starting is still higher than I would have expected.

Re:I call bullshit. (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40841063)

You Americans still don't get this metric stuff do you.

Of course we do. There are 1.6 kilometres to the gallon, and 3 litres to the American non-statutory country mile (the liquid mile, that is; a dry mile is 3 9/8 bushels longer, except in Kansas where it's *another* 7 degrees higher and isn't allowed to be measured at all on a Sunday).

Re:I call bullshit. (5, Insightful)

HaZardman27 (1521119) | more than 2 years ago | (#40841145)

You Americans still don't get this metric stuff do you.

His problem was not in misunderstanding the metric system, his problem was in failing to do simple algebra.

Re:I call bullshit. (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40841315)

Give him a break. He's a Political Science graduate.

Re:I call bullshit. (4, Insightful)

metrix007 (200091) | more than 2 years ago | (#40841205)

I find it funny that the US gets criticized for not being metric, when the UK isn't either. Officially sure, but they all talk in pounds and stone and ounces.

Re:I call bullshit. (5, Funny)

mlk (18543) | more than 2 years ago | (#40841367)

The UK system is easy to remember.

Beer is in Pints. Except when it is Foreign. Then it should be in pints, but them damn foreigners don't know what they are doing.

Milk is in pints.

All other liquids are in metric.

People are measured in imperial. Except newborns who are metric.

All food, except steaks are metric.

Distances when using a road are imperial. All other times metric.

Re:I call bullshit. (1)

prefect42 (141309) | more than 2 years ago | (#40841539)

That pretty much sums it up.

Other distances are imperial e.g. we still have furlongs in horse racing, and horses are still in hands.
Fuel economy is still typically talked of in miles per gallon.
Cold temperatures are in Celsius, hot in Farenheit.
Clothes are still normally measured in inches.

Re:I call bullshit. (4, Informative)

xaxa (988988) | more than 2 years ago | (#40841571)

I find it funny that the US gets criticized for not being metric, when the UK isn't either. Officially sure, but they all talk in pounds and stone and ounces.

All actual work is done in metric.

The imperial holdovers are in a few bits of daily life: road speeds and distances (but the roads and cars are built using metric measurements), human height and weight (but doctors always use metric), beer volume in pubs.

(Other daily life things are metric: temperature, buying and cooking food, building construction etc.)

It's stupid, and I wish we'd just finish the transition, but it's nowhere near as annoying as the US.

Re:I call bullshit. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40841567)

Warning! Eurotrash detected! We've got a pompous fagget here making sweeping generalizations of a country based on one person's bad math. As "dow" assumes "ledow" is from the United States of America, we can safely assume that "dow" us useless eurotrash. Please move along.

Re:I call bullshit (1, Informative)

Brett Buck (811747) | more than 2 years ago | (#40841633)

I check and review a lot of engineering papers, I see about 3x the rate of order of magnitude type errors like this one with metric units compared to conventional units. Even from "native metric users".

    Speaking of calling bullshit on something, the premise of this article is utter BS as well. The difference in time of arrival of the sound based on lane position is on the order of 30 msec, worst-case, not 300-ish.

Re:I call bullshit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40841727)

Some races are decided by margins on the order of 10 msec. So 30 msec does matter.

Check out some of these times: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Athletics_at_the_2008_Summer_Olympics_%E2%80%93_Men%27s_100_metres

Re:I call bullshit. (2, Interesting)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#40841717)

You Americans still don't get this metric stuff do you.

Use the right tool for the job, in this case imperial. We're talking about feet in an olympic article about running and feet, so use feet to measure. Not millionths of the distance from Paris to the north pole or wavelengths of cesium or WTF arbitrary measurement a metre is. Use feet. Yes, it would be dumb to use human feet to measure an interplanetary space probe, but this is totally appropriate.

Sound travels at 5 secs/mile as anybody who's survived a thunderstorm and counted miles away by fives knows. In other words one second = 1000 feet or sound takes about "a thousandth" to go a foot. The article is babbling about measuring run times to ten thousandths of a second, and sounds takes one thousandth to go a foot, so it doesn't take a genius engineer or physicist to figure if you want tenths accuracy you need to position the speakers the same distance from the ears with tenth of a foot accuracy, or "about an inch". Which the olympic fools still aren't doing correctly, as near as I can tell.

Its all idiocy for show anyway. They have to start at the same instant because in ye olden days they didn't have computer measurements, so they determined the winner by who passed the line first. They should just run individually now and use chrono gates much like at a gun range. Yes yes, I know its motivational to run together and "compete" while running but these are adults not five year olds, so they can be expected to run "really fast all the time" even if not in a pack or herd. I'm sure the steroids will ensure a proper competitive attitude and outlook on life.

Re:I call bullshit. (1)

mister2au (1707664) | more than 2 years ago | (#40840809)

Huh? 100m in a third of a second is a kilometer?

I think the calculation you were looking for is:

8 lanes * 4 feet = 32 feet or 10 meters

10/330 = 0.03 seconds

so yes 0.03 sec is not very much and certainly not 0.3 second

Re:I call bullshit. (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40841285)

It isn't just the width of the lanes, of course. For some races, the sprinters are started with a considerable offset from one another along the track to account for inside-outside lane length differences.

0.03 sec is the difference between Gold and Silver (5, Informative)

perpenso (1613749) | more than 2 years ago | (#40841293)

... 0.03 sec is not very much ...

0.03 sec is enormous in the context of the Olympics. The difference between Gold and Silver medals is sometimes 0.01 sec.

Re:0.03 sec is the difference between Gold and Sil (1)

NotQuiteReal (608241) | more than 2 years ago | (#40841697)

Time differences of 0.03 seconds, when measuring human activities, is an almost random amount.

Let's just say all of the athletes are special and give everyone a participation trophy.

Re:I call bullshit. (1)

OCedHrt (1001533) | more than 2 years ago | (#40840817)

As others pointed out, it's 3 seconds per km, or rather about 300 ms per 100m. This is a bit more plausible, though I doubt position 9 is 100 m away. And if this was indeed the case you'd see a gradually decreasing reaction time as you get further away from the source.

Re:I call bullshit. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40841143)

Think of the 400m start.

Re:I call bullshit. (2)

MuH4hA (1579647) | more than 2 years ago | (#40840897)

As others already pointed out, you're not exactly a math genious.

Also, the article mentions they take a shitload of images and detemine the winner
this way (-> http://goo.gl/vKZFa [goo.gl] - chest is, what counts).

Furthermore the speed of sound could easily explain a difference of let's say 0.02s (equivalent to ~ 6.5m)
and as you said yourself, sometimes that does make the difference.

Re:I call bullshit. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40841455)

There are 1000m in a km. Check your math.

Re:I call bullshit. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40841685)

Did you mean "That's a kilometer in THREE seconds"?

sandyqun (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40840733)

good

Not sure... (1)

hey_popey (1285712) | more than 2 years ago | (#40840737)

Not sure if real pistol fired next to the athletes is too easy or not geek enough...

Re:Not sure... (1)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 2 years ago | (#40841165)

In 2012 it doesn't seem impossible to put a speaker+light in all the starting blocks.

Re:Not sure... (1)

Theophany (2519296) | more than 2 years ago | (#40841251)

Will it matter that much if Usain Bolt destroys the field, as is the most likely outcome?

Where have you been the last thirty years? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40841327)

Not sure if real pistol fired next to the athletes is too easy or not geek enough...

Just try getting a real pistol through the Olympic secure zone.

Physics, people! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40840749)

0.44s - 0.135s = 0.305s. Speed of sound is 343m/s. Are we supposed to believe that the farthest starting position is about 343m/s * 0.305s = 104m further away from the pistol than the nearest? The guy's just slow.

Re:Physics, people! (2, Insightful)

captainpanic (1173915) | more than 2 years ago | (#40840935)

It's more like 10 meters. Which means the difference in time is 0.03s, which is (at the 100m sprint) significant, and can mean the difference between winning or losing, or between a world record or no record.

Re:Physics, people! (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40841277)

Great, now that the "real" athletes are also complaining about ping times, can we make FPS olympic?

Speed of light (2)

anarcobra (1551067) | more than 2 years ago | (#40840751)

They should just use a light instead of sound. Even at school we waved a flag to start because if we went by sound it would introduce an error into the timing.

Re:Speed of light (5, Informative)

pushing-robot (1037830) | more than 2 years ago | (#40840829)

Because we typically react a bit faster to auditory stimuli.

(around 30-50 ms faster than visual stimuli)

Re:Speed of light (4, Informative)

SorcererX (818515) | more than 2 years ago | (#40840905)

Indeed, do you have a source for the 30-50 ms faster figure? My source says 80 ms faster than visual stimuli. Source: "We ran a t-test based on the tabulated average individual reaction times to each stimuli, and established that the mean average individual reaction time to light (0.28005 sec.) was statistically significantly different than the mean average individual reaction time to sound (0.20407 sec.; P-Value= 1.79E-07 .05, the statistical level of significance)." ( http://www.colorado.edu/eeb/courses/1230jbasey/abstracts%202010/37.htm [colorado.edu] )

Re:Speed of light (4, Informative)

pushing-robot (1037830) | more than 2 years ago | (#40841123)

30ms seems to be the most common figure cited. 50ms was an aggregate of other studies I found (from a simple google search) which were typically in the 40-60ms range.

http://biae.clemson.edu/bpc/bp/Lab/110/reaction.htm [clemson.edu]

Re:Speed of light (4, Funny)

GNious (953874) | more than 2 years ago | (#40841029)

I suggest electrical stimuli - 240v should suffice

Re:Speed of light (1)

HaZardman27 (1521119) | more than 2 years ago | (#40841181)

It would certainly make spectating a lot more interesting! You could kill two birds and fill up some of those empty seats.

Re:Speed of light (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40841707)

If they're all using a visual stimuli, then no one gets an advantage, so that would work fine. Only issue I see is when some years down the road they change back to a an audible stimuli, and all the scores drop by ~50ms.

Re:Speed of light (2)

ArcherB (796902) | more than 2 years ago | (#40840859)

They should just use a light instead of sound.
Even at school we waved a flag to start because if we went by sound it would introduce an error into the timing.

Back in my track days, we were taught to go by the smoke of the pistol, not the bang. When did this change?

Re:Speed of light (1)

johnsnails (1715452) | more than 2 years ago | (#40840915)

It hasn't... I tried being all technical (as a first year maths teacher) and observed that the sound from the gun was taking time to reach us, and some mum next to me with stop watch was like, 'we go by the smoke'

Re:Speed of light (1)

MuH4hA (1579647) | more than 2 years ago | (#40840931)

Say whuut?

I was taught to keep my eyes either closed or on the
track below me (chin on the chest) so as to not mess with
concentration.. never seen a sprinter looking around at the start..

Re:Speed of light (4, Funny)

catmistake (814204) | more than 2 years ago | (#40841103)

Back in my track days, we were taught to go by the smoke of the pistol, not the bang.

For that to even be remotely effective, your track team must have smelled really really fast.

Re:Speed of light (1)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 2 years ago | (#40841183)

I'm guessing that head-down is a better posture for a sprinter when he's in the blocks.

Why not use lights? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40840753)

Why not use lights? Some LEDs embedded into the track or something would work just as well, no?

Re:Why not use lights? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40840875)

What about the blind?

Re:Why not use lights? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40840919)

Electroshocks

Re:Why not use lights? (3, Funny)

ciderbrew (1860166) | more than 2 years ago | (#40840937)

The guide dog pulls them along faster to make up for it.

Re:Why not use lights? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40841307)

What about the blind?

Really?

First! (3, Funny)

yorgo (595005) | more than 2 years ago | (#40840759)

Appropriate, for once...

Re:First! (5, Funny)

ArcherB (796902) | more than 2 years ago | (#40840869)

Appropriate, for once...

You must have been waiting for the sound.

Lights! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40840761)

So... don't use sound, use light.

Use lights - something like Formula 1. A series of lights that all go off when it is time to start. This is also advantageous to those who may be a deaf.

Re:Lights! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40840877)

Except that it encourages jumping the gun, starting the process before it's actually been signaled.

Re:Lights! (1)

shentino (1139071) | more than 2 years ago | (#40841275)

If you jump the gun you get disqualified.

Re:Lights! (1)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 2 years ago | (#40841215)

In F1 the drivers are looking down the track, not at the floor.

Plus sound works better as a starting stimulus (as somebody pointed out above).

Needs to be more real (0)

antifoidulus (807088) | more than 2 years ago | (#40840767)

I say have a computerized gun set up directly behind each athlete and program it to shoot them all at once. That will get them running, and will actually make watching it fun :p

Re:Needs to be more real (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40840849)

gun set up directly behind each athlete and program it to shoot them all at once

Shooting the athletes seems fun at first, but the event is going to be over quick and what are you going to do then?

Re:Needs to be more real (1)

F'Nok (226987) | more than 2 years ago | (#40841221)

Shooting the athletes seems fun at first, but the event is going to be over quick and what are you going to do then?

Not at all!

Having them wounded and limping to the finish will make the race take significantly longer!

Re:Needs to be more real (1)

Johann Lau (1040920) | more than 2 years ago | (#40841229)

More time for the main event, advertising. It does make perfect sense, it may just be ahead of the time.

LED strip along the ground. (4, Interesting)

RivenAleem (1590553) | more than 2 years ago | (#40840803)

Why not just lights? Works for F1.

Re:LED strip along the ground. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40840959)

Why not just lights? Works for F1.

Then what would the blind athletes do?

Re:LED strip along the ground. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40841035)

Why not just lights? Works for F1.

Then what would the blind athletes do?

Paralympics?

Re:LED strip along the ground. (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40841097)

Then what would the blind athletes do?

Run after their dogs...

Re:LED strip along the ground. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40841159)

Why not just lights? Works for F1.

Then what would the blind athletes do?

Sue the person who thought that Class4-laser LEDs were a suitable light source?

Re:LED strip along the ground. (1)

wed128 (722152) | more than 2 years ago | (#40841353)

Run into things.

Re:LED strip along the ground. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40841747)

the same thing deaf ones do right now.

Re:LED strip along the ground. (1)

Quakeulf (2650167) | more than 2 years ago | (#40840985)

GENTLEMEN! Start your engines!

Re:LED strip along the ground. (2)

skovnymfe (1671822) | more than 2 years ago | (#40841071)

Don't they have the "beep beep beep beeeeep" sound to indicate the start of the race?

Timing for swim events (1)

AB3A (192265) | more than 2 years ago | (#40840805)

When acting as a timing judge for swim team events, we have always been told to watch for the strobe flash from the start signal. It is supposed to be much more consistent.

Free market solution (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40840813)

Highest bidder gets to hear the starting gun first

Re:Free market solution (2)

Chrisq (894406) | more than 2 years ago | (#40840839)

Highest bidder gets to hear the starting gun first

Why not skip that and just auction the medals

Re:Free market solution (1)

will_die (586523) | more than 2 years ago | (#40841079)

Because they would not bring in that much money.
In US Dollars the metal is worth: The gold medal is only worth around $650.
Silver around $310
Bronze under $5

There are some older ones available ever so often on ebay they don't get that much unless releated to something very special.

Einstein... (1)

BrownLeopard (876112) | more than 2 years ago | (#40840825)

...had it right? Would this also fall under space-time maybe?

Overkill (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40840831)

Why not just move the starting gun to behind the athletes? The further back it is placed, the more equal the distance to each athlete. It doesn't get as much media attention though.

Re:Overkill (1)

captainpanic (1173915) | more than 2 years ago | (#40841319)

Meh. Just point the gun at the athletes, and they'll easily make up for the few hundreths lost at the start.

Win-win, I'd say.

This saved me once (5, Funny)

sturle (1165695) | more than 2 years ago | (#40840867)

This reminds me of my time in the navy. There was a minimum requirement for everything, including 60 meter sprint. I ran it once, and got clocked in 1/10th of a second to late. Fearing I would have to run 60 meters once more, I protested because the starter gun was at the finish line! The sound would take almost exactly 1/10th of a second to reach the starting line from the finish line, I argued. They had to accept the protest, of course, and I made the requirement exactly.

Re:This saved me once (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40840907)

Please, talk more about yourself.

Re:This saved me once (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40840909)

A fine navy you boys have, fearing a 60m run.

Re:This saved me once (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40840921)

So the moral of your story is that basic physics saved your fat lardass from having to do some PT?

Re:This saved me once (2)

jareth-0205 (525594) | more than 2 years ago | (#40841141)

So the moral of your story is that basic physics saved your fat lardass from having to do some PT?

Sounds like a valid use to me...

Re:This saved me once (2)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 2 years ago | (#40841245)

...a whole 60m run. Less than ten seconds of exercise. I guess it's true what they say about the Navy.

Re:This saved me once (1)

shentino (1139071) | more than 2 years ago | (#40841321)

The moral is that you apparently can sass your CO and get away with it.

I seriously doubt getting into an argument would have gotten you anything less than a captain's mast for your insolence.

So I'm calling bullshit.

It is easy to compute... (1)

Yvanhoe (564877) | more than 2 years ago | (#40840883)

...so why not give runners a time bonus if they are in a later lane ? Start 30 m from the gun, get a 100ms bonus. Sounds simple enough, no ?

hamster wheels! (5, Interesting)

catmistake (814204) | more than 2 years ago | (#40840887)

How about placing runners in some kind of human-sized hamster wheels with clutch mechanisms, so that all runners can already be running at top speed for some short period prior to the actual start of the race, at which time all of the clutches are simultaneously disengaged, so all runners start at full their full stride and their full speed at the same time? This would change the dynamics of racing because it would remove reaction time as a competitive element from the race. But what is a race? Is it to see who has the fastest reaction time, or who runs the fastest, or both?

Re:hamster wheels! (2)

somersault (912633) | more than 2 years ago | (#40841065)

what is a race? Is it to see who has the fastest reaction time, or who runs the fastest, or both?

Obviously both are a part of this type of race. Previously due to necessity, but now in the ages of high speed cameras and other tech, just due to tradition. If they simply wanted to see who could do the fastest 100m from a flying start, they could just let everyone start whenever they want, and measure their performance from 10m to 100m.

Re:hamster wheels! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40841549)

I have an improvement for your idea:

Instead of unclutching and/or releasing the hamster balls, just start a timer and a distance counter at point t0 (start of the race), and stop it when the distance counter reaches a distance of say 100 meters, or whatever the track length should be for that race. Whoever gets the lowest time wins. To accommodate for hurdles, you could use a treadmill instead of a hamster ball.

The articles math is wrong, but the premise holds (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40840929)

There are 8 lanes on a track, each of which are 1.27 meters wide. There are 7 lane widths between a head in lane 1 and a head in lane 8. This works out to 8.89 meters. The speed of sound is 340.29 meter/sec. The leads to a worst case difference of .026 seconds between lane 1 and lane 8. The difference between bronze and gold in the 2008 Olympics Men's 100 Meters is 0.22 seconds. So at first it seems to not be an issue, but the difference between bronze and 4th place was .02 seconds. This indicates that lane position and the speed of sound could have an effect on the outcome of an event.

Re:The articles math is wrong, but the premise hol (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40841463)

The speed of sound is 340.29 meter/sec

If you're going to be that precise and definite about the speed of sound you'd better state what temperature/pressure/moisture level you're talking about... In short - it varies [rane.com] .

Er... Basic geometry? (4, Insightful)

pev (2186) | more than 2 years ago | (#40841055)

So. Rather than have the pistol in line with the row at one side, how about having it in the middle halving the dis-advantage at the extreme(s). Even better, have the pistol central but step back 10 - 20 foot or so and that reduces the differential even further. Seems more practical and a lot more inexpensive than a super dooper electronic system.

Re:Er... Basic geometry? (1)

characterZer0 (138196) | more than 2 years ago | (#40841133)

Did you think the Olympics(TM)(C)(R) were about competition and fairness instead of about money, bribes, kickbacks, and the worst kind of patriotism?

Re:Er... Basic geometry? (1)

crow (16139) | more than 2 years ago | (#40841555)

And then they would have to adjust the timing for the false start detection to be based on when the sound reaches the athletes.

Re:Er... Basic geometry? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40841757)

Why not just put a speaker behind each athlete so that there is no disadvantage at all?

Traditions. (2)

MaWeiTao (908546) | more than 2 years ago | (#40841099)

What confuses me is that the story says they're using speakers, meaning every player hears the sound at the same time. So where's the issue?

It seems that the speakers convey the sound of a guy with an actual gun further behind. But why aren't the players training themselves to react to the first sound, disregarding the real noise. More importantly, why the hell is there even a real gun out there if they've got the speakers? They couldn't have started using a prerecorded sound years ago?

It appears to me that the real story here is that these officials are so slavish to hopelessly outdated traditions that they'll continue sticking to them even long after it's become evident that it's detrimental. It reminds me of FIFA's long time refusal to accept replays or goal line technology.

Re:Traditions. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40841305)

To quote an anonymous referee: They can pry my starting gun out of my dead cold hand

How about this one, simple rule? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40841135)

If the speed of sound would be a potential factor in determining who wins, it counts as a tie.

Re:How about this one, simple rule? (2)

XiaoMing (1574363) | more than 2 years ago | (#40841177)

If the speed of sound would be a potential factor in determining who wins, it counts as a tie.

I have a feeling we'd see a lot of deaf people at least tying for first in the Olympics then.

Watch for smoke (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40841249)

When I ran track in high school one of the first we were taught is not to wait for the sound but go as soon as you see the smoke from the starting gun.

Non-story (1, Offtopic)

nicholasjay (921044) | more than 2 years ago | (#40841287)

What a non-story. It says in the article that they began using this technology in the 2010 Vancouver Games.

" Beginning at the Vancouver Olympics in 2010, OMEGA switched to the current "silent" pistol technology, erasing the thousandths of of a second that stood between runner nine and runner one."

Jack Handey (1)

crispylinetta (1639533) | more than 2 years ago | (#40841377)

Why make things so complicated? Just use the speakers and play a recording of the pistol shot with no real pistol. Reminds me of the Jack Handey quote:

"Instead of raising your hand to ask a question in class, how about individual push buttons on each desk. That way, when you want to ask a question, you just push the button and it lights up a corresponding number on a tote board at the front of the class. Then all the professor has to do is check the lighted number against a master sheet of names and numbers to see who is asking the question."

Simple!

Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>