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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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Video: Why Humans Don't Gallop
18 January 2013 11:30 am
Dogs do it. Horses do it. So why don't humans? When animals need to get somewhere in a hurry, they gallop, but people rarely use this gait—similar to skipping, with the same foot remaining in front throughout the movement. To figure out why, researchers sent volunteers down a 30-meter runway at a run and at a gallop. Sensors placed along the track measured the force of their legs against the ground, while a motion-capture system—similar to what's used in digital animation—recorded their movements in three dimensions; researchers made an animated model (above) for each trial in order to calculate the forces involved. A separate experiment tested how much energy each gait required through 4-minute intervals on a treadmill. In an upcoming issue of The Journal of Experimental Biology, researchers report that galloping makes the hips move and absorb forces differently than a run does, and eats up more energy as a result. The front leg pushes the body up into the air while braking against forward motion, acting like the pole in the pole vault; the back leg does the opposite. A horse can shift energy between its front and back legs and their large tendons, making the gait much more efficient than a trot—the quadruped equivalent to a run. Hip strain itself might also prevent two-leggers from taking up galloping as a workout; treadmill gallopers reported that the gait was challenging and uncomfortable for hips and thighs, and several stopped galloping before the 4 minutes were up.
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