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5. Beaten by 0.001 seconds

January 23, 2014

Here is a screen grab from the  New York Times article on Speed Skating:

Fractions of a Second: New York Times

Fractions of a Second: New York Times

Annette Gerritsen fromthe Netherlands

Annette Gerritsen fromthe Netherlands

Annette Gerristen lost the Gold Medal in the 1000 m Women’s speed skate competition by 0.02 seconds.

Apollo Ono USA speed skater

Apollo Ono USA speed skater

Screen Grab NBC Mathletes Apollo Ono Recorded Speed

Screen Grab NBC Mathletes
Apollo Ono Recorded Speed

From the wonderful NBC Mathletes Video

How far can a speed skater travel in 0.02 secs?

speed skate maths

When 1st and 2nd place are separated by 0.02 seconds, they are travelling at almost the same speed. So the second place contestant is:

23.8 cm

behind the winner.

The distance travelled by the winning speed skater in 0.002 seconds would be:

2.38 cm.

So the second place competitor would be 2.38 cm behind.

If a speed skater lost the Gold Medal by 0.001 seconds, the smallest measured time segment at the Olympics, they would be:

1.19 cm

behind the winner. That is less than the length of a small fingernail.

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