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17 April 2014 12:48 pm ,
Vol. 344 ,
Officials last week revealed that the U.S. contribution to ITER could cost $3.9 billion by 2034—roughly four times the...
An experimental hepatitis B drug that looked safe in animal trials tragically killed five of 15 patients in 1993. Now,...
Using the two high-quality genomes that exist for Neandertals and Denisovans, researchers find clues to gene activity...
A new report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) concludes that humanity has done little to slow...
Astronomers have discovered an Earth-sized planet in the habitable zone of a red dwarf—a star cooler than the sun—500...
Three years ago, Jennifer Francis of Rutgers University proposed that a warming Arctic was altering the behavior of the...
- 17 April 2014 12:48 pm , Vol. 344 , #6181
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ScienceShot: The Key to the Cheetah's Speed
21 June 2012 2:16 pm
Usain Bolt may be looking to cement his Olympic track legacy at this year's London games, but in a competition for world's fastest sprinter, it's the cheetah that takes first place. Though pitting the Jamaican athlete against the speedy cat may not be a fair comparison—especially since in 2009 a cheetah named Sarah bested Bolt's record-breaking 9.69-second 100-meter dash by a good 3 seconds—scientists now know what makes the swift feline faster than similarly built speedsters, such as the racing greyhound. Using high-speed cameras, the team recorded cheetahs and greyhounds galloping across a track lined with force plates. By analyzing the two animals' sprinting patterns and contact forces, the researchers identified several biomechanical factors that help the cheetah outstrip its canine competition, they reveal today in The Journal of Experimental Biology. In addition to having longer stride lengths, cheetahs can increase the number of strides they make per second as they accelerate. While running at the leisurely pace of 9 m/s the cats used 2.4 strides per second, but when they sped up to 17.8 m/s they used 3.2 strides per second. Greyhounds on the other hand, sprinted with 3.5 strides per second regardless of how fast they were going. Surprisingly, in this study the dogs reached speeds of 19 m/s, which were faster than the captive cats' performance. The scientists think that wild cheetahs, which boast speeds of 29 m/s, can use 4 strides per second at their top speeds.
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