The summer olympics begin today in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, but these athletes can't succeed without science! We've compiled ten resources on the science behind sports so you can find out how the top athletes win gold.

1) The Biomechanics of Usain Bolt

The Science of the Summer Olympics - Bolt's stride, strength, and muscle coordination make him a biomechanical marvel! Video courtesy of NBCLearn.

2) Measuring a Champion

The Science of the Summer Olympics - why Olympic timekeeping technology must be able to measure an athlete's performance with both accuracy and precision.

3) Catching Cheaters with Chemistry

Athletes who use banned drugs get a unfair advantage. But how do officials know which athletes are cheating and which ones are “clean”? With chemistry, of course!

4) Your Athletic DNA?!

What if you could take a medical test that would tell you what sports you might be best suited for?

5) Scared Hitless

Because it can take as little as 0.3sec for a volleyball to go from one player to an opponent, volleyball is all about anticipation. Whether you know it or not, your brain uses a lot of physics to anticipate the location, speed and trajectory of the ball.

6) Sharks in the Pool

At the Sydney Olympics in 2000, the joke was that triathletes were swimming their best times because of sharks in Sydney Harbour. That would definitely make me swim faster, but it didn’t explain why swimmers in the nearby pools were also breaking records.

7) Engineering for Mobility

The Science of the Summer Olympics - how engineering can help wheelchair athletes maximize their performance in many diverse sports. Video courtesy of NBCLearn.

8) Sarah Robles and the Mechanics of Weightlifting

The Science of the Summer Olympics - comparing a weightlifter's arm movements to a robotic arm! Video courtesy of NBCLearn.

9) The Inside Edge

Athlete dreams of being “in the zone”, there’s just one problem. You can’t put yourself into the zone. Sometimes it happens, sometimes it doesn’t. That’s where an appointment with a sport psychologist comes in.

10) All Aboard! The Physics of Rowing

Rowing has existed as a sport for a long time. The ancient civilizations of Egyptians, Romans, and Greeks all have left evidence that they organized boat races.

Victoria Gluch


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