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Humorous debunking of 1992 letter in Nature that

posted by Jason Kottke   Aug 23, 2004

Humorous debunking of 1992 letter in Nature that extrapolated that women might soon outrun men in track events. In the year 6419, women marathon runners will reach the speed of sound. “The aerodynamics of runners exceeding the speed of sound is interesting given that their feet must repeatedly accelerate from rest, exceed the speed of sound and then stop, making for a rapid series of sonic booms.”

Reader comments

BoAug 23, 2004 at 4:18PM

The issue of men v. women in sports is so laden with cultural baggage that Tour de France commentator
Bob Roll wouldn’t even answer a viewer question about why women didn’t compete in the Tour. He just
laughed: they get that same question every year, and “women are just too smart” to stoop to the level of
cycling in the Tour. No doubt his producer, fearing a deluge of complaints and protests, warned him not to
offer the real answer to that question. It’s sad.

samAug 25, 2004 at 8:37AM

Real answer being that women’s bodies aren’t so tolerant of the drugs? :>

I think it’s a valid question though for events like the Tour: why not have a women’s race? Women could still compete, even if they need to be separately ranked.

A more relevant question might be how long it is before medical/biotech advances make sports irrelevant, whatever the gender of participants: if you can genetically-engineer somebody to optimise their body for running (and I don’t see why, in 50 or 100 or 250 years, that wouldn’t be the case) then being the fastest runner in the world is pointless. Or it’d be more akin to the ‘constructor’s championship’ in F1, but I don’t think people really want that when it’s people being constructed.

As I’m not a sports fan, I’m kind of hoping that competitive tribal sports as a gazillion-dollar industry will mostly die out and be replaced by ‘games’ - people playing each other for fun at a local level. I’m probably being far, far too optimistic, but oh well.

This thread is closed to new comments. Thanks to everyone who responded.