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Jumbo Package: The science of the Olympics and the limits of human performance

There’s some Alabama news in here too, promise.

Olympics: Snowboard Halfpipe-Training Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Yeah, it’s a slow day. There’s little interesting stuff out there relevant to Alabama. But, the point of the JP has always been more about launching discussion than merely being a link-dump, so we’ll try and give you something outside the box today.

Now, on to other cool stuff. Today, it just happens to be about the Olympics:

  • What group of Winter Olympic fans can allegedly tailgate like an SEC home crowd? Meet the partially-undressed, drunken rabblerousers up in the Luge stands. No word on whether snowboard enthusiasts are playing Call of Duty and crushing a bag of Funyuns when not at the halfpipe.
  • You may have heard the big deal on Sunday night, when US Women’s figure skater Mirai Nagasu nailed a triple axel in competition, becoming the first to do so since Tonya Harding and the first US woman to do so in the OIympics:
  • But, what makes this such a big deal? The physics are explained here:
  • It takes a lot of upper body strength to generate the angular momentum to do that jump. What other muscles need to be freakishly developed for their respective sport? BI breaks down the athletic development necessary for each event — the luge, for instance, requires a neck like a tree trunk.
  • Various quad tricks are being performed all over the venues in South Korea this week. But, we are closing in on the limit of what the unassisted human body can do. Will quintuples be in our future? Probably not.
  • Finally, from a real-live rocket scientist at the Marshall Space Flight Center, the oddly fascinating and satisfying science of curling. The rock does not behave as it should, or at least as we expect it to. Is it the ice? The brooms? The stone itself? Some combination of the factors? There are literally three curling physicists in the world, divided into two camps...and they don’t agree. They don’t even speak to one another.

If you have time to watch just one video today, make it this one.

Now, having been armed with some of the physics of the Olympics, go forth to erudition — or at least now be smart enough win a bar bet or two!