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Mar 22, 2013

How fast can the fastest human being run?  We know that Usain Bolt of Jamacia ran at a top speed of  27.78 miles per hour (44.72 km/h) between the 60 to 80 meter segment of the 100 meter sprint in 1.61 seconds on August 16th, 2009 at the Berlin World Championships.  

But what I want to know, is how fast could the fastest human being ever really run.  I’m not talking about Usain...the guy is amazing...but we are human beings, and we have evolved with this particular physicolgy.  What would it take for one of us to run the fastest that is possible as a member of our species?

It turns out that, according to the latest science, there are two contending factors which affect the speed of human beings: first the amount of force that our bodies can handle as we smash our limbs upon the ground, and second the speed at which our muscles can contract and pull on our tendons.  Only one of these is the primary factor, and it will become obvious as we go through the science which matters most.

We need to consider the mechanics here to come up with a theoretical limit to human speed, and as we do you need to keep Usain Bolt’s 28 miles per hour in mind.

This is an episode about the theoretical limits to the speed of a human being. The answer to “How Fast Can We Run”, as a species, may surprise you!


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