Courtesy Sue Mainka / IUCNSo we're just three days into the 2012 London Olympics and the TV coverage is already predictable. A gymnast or two has cried, an Eastern Bloc athlete has been banned for testing positive for performance-enhancing substances and the guys playing water polo have extremely "ripped" bodies. So how about shaking things up and checking out this fun feature on the animal Olympics, and find out which species, according to the Olympic motto, go stronger, higher, faster.
Courtesy White HouseFor the past week, it's been all Michael Phelps, all the time on the media. So why shouldn't Science Buzz jump on the bandwagon as well. Here's an interesting story from National Public Radio about the food consumption that the all-time Olympic gold medal winner puts down as part of his training regimine. Be sure to listen to the listing of the typical Phelps breakfast. It puts Old Country Buffet to shame, right down to the chocolate chip pancakes.
His daily calorie intake during peak times of training is 12,000 calories. Standard diets for mere mortals suggest a caloric intake of up to 2,000 calories. Ah, now I get it. He's winning all those gold medals by eating a lot. That's great news for me with the approach of football season and all the calories I'll be consuming on my sofa while watching the games. I should be in gold medal shape by November, don't you think?
And if you haven't gotten your fill of Michael Phelps info by now, here's another NPR story about the technology behind the timing systems used at the Olympic pool that can figure out the winners of races who are separated by just a hundreth of a second.
Courtesy MeContinuing with our flurry of Olympic-related posts here on the Buzz, a new study has come out analyzing the risks that diving boards pose at swimming pools across the U.S. It’s actually the first comprehensive study done on the topic.
And the numbers were surprising, at least to me. Statistically, a person sustains an injury from actions involving a diving board every hour of every day that swimming pools are open, according to the study. The full details are available here.
On an annual basis, emergency rooms treat about 6,500 kids who sustain diving related injuries. This doesn’t come as a big surprise, most of those injuries involved divers attempting to do flips or twists who struck the diving board on their way back down toward the water.
I don’t know if this is good news or bad news, but 80 percent of the injuries occur on low-level diving boards, those just one meter or less above the water’s surface. And kids between the ages of 10 and 14 are the most likely to suffer an injury from a diving board. Boys are more than twice as likely as girls to suffer a severe injury to their neck or back from diving.
What do you think of all of this? Have you suffered an injury or had a close call while diving? Share your stories and viewpoints here with other Science Buzz readers.
Courtesy Mark RyanAs athletes around the world gear up for the upcoming Beijing Olympics, officials in China are setting a sex-determination laboratory to confirm the gender of some of the competitors.
Despite objections by some medical ethicists that the tests are too intrusive, suspected “female” athletes will be checked for external appearance, genes, and hormones. Particular scrutiny will be given to women who are able to find the laboratory at the Peking Union Medical College Hospital without having to stop to ask directions.
The lab is a holdover from previous Olympics when questions were raised about the gender of several “female” athletes from some Soviet Bloc countries. From then on, every woman wanting to compete in the Games had to submit to a sex-evaluation screening that required them to walk naked in front of a committee of doctors. This was replaced in 1968 with chromosome tests. Blanket testing was eliminated in 1999, and now only “suspect” women – like those who leave the toilet seat up - will be tested.
“We must be ready to take on such cases should they arise,” said Arne Ljungqvist, chairman of the IOC’s medical commission. “Sometimes, fingers are pointed at particular female athletes, and in order to protect them, we have to be able to investigate it and clarify.”
Throughout its existence the mandatory testing program has never led to a single confirmed case of males impersonating females to gain an edge in the Games. Several cases of gender suspicion arose in Atlanta in 1996 when eight women failed to pass a genetic test, but they were cleared after it was determined they all suffered from a birth defect that presented no advantage other than being able to parallel park.
Prior to the tests, there’s only been one confirmed case of a male impersonating a female in the Games. In 1936, Hermann Ratjen was forced by the Nazis to compete as Dora Ratjen in the women’s high jump during the Berlin Olympics. He confessed to the subterfuge in 1956 but only after being confronted with rumors that he had been overheard telling a teammate a joke without botching the punch line.
SOURCE and LINKS