An athlete uses physics to shatter world records Asaf BarYosef
In the early 1960s, Dick Fosbury tried his hand at almost every sport, but never excelled at anything, until, at the age of 16, he turned to the high jump. But when he couldn't compete against the strong athletes at his college using the standard high jump techniques of the time, Fosbury tried to jump a different way: backwards.
Instead of jumping with his face towards the bar, bringing each leg over in the traditional straddle method, he jumped with his back towards the bar. Fosbury improved his record by over half a foot, and left his coaches amazed by this strange new style of high jumping. During the next few years,
Fosbury perfected his high jump style, won the U.S. National trials, and assured his place in the 1968 Olympics in Mexico. In the Olympic Games, Fosbury amazed the world with his new technique, winning a gold metal with an Olympic record leap of 2.24 meters. By the next Olympic Games, almost all of the competing of high jumpers
had adopted what came to be known as the Fosbury Flop. What's the secret behind the techniqueé It lies in a physics concept called the center of mass. For every object, we can locate the average position of all of its mass by taking into account how the mass
is spread around the object. For instance, the center of mass of a flat, rectangular object of uniform density will be in the intersection of both diagonals, in equal distance from each corner. We can find the center of mass for other objects by similar calculations, or by finding the object's balancing point,
which lies right underneath its center of mass. Try balancing a broom by holding it and slowly bringing your hands together until they meet. This balancing point lies right underneath the broom's center of mass. We humans also have a center of mass. When most people stand up, their center of mass is around the belly,