Science Podcasts

Naked Scientists episode

Sat, 12th Jul 2008

Olympic Science

Fireworks over the Sydney Harbour Bridge during closing ceremonies of the Olympics games. (c) DOD via pingnews

We're going for gold on this week's Olympian Naked Scientists, by discovering the sporty science of performance enhancement.  We find out how drugs can help boost an athlete's performance, and how the testing labs are hot on their heels!  We also explore how altitude training and hi-tech trainers can power athletes past their personal bests.  Plus, a stem cell cure for muscular dystrophy, flies with flu and how a rubber Anaconda could generate energy from waves.  And in Kitchen Science, we find out how to get the biggest bounce from two balls!

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In this edition of Naked Scientists

Full Transcript

  • 19:47 - Monster Bounces

    Make a tennis ball bounce much higher than the height you dropped it from using a neat piece of physics.

  • 23:38 - Performance Enhancing Drugs

    We’ve seen the news stories in previous Olympic tournaments where athletes have been caught using performance enhancing drugs, such as steroids, to increase their chances of winning their event. But how much of a boost is this really giving them? We’ve got Professor Chris Cooper...

  • 29:08 - Are there any natural steroids?

    I wanted to know if there are any naturally derived (or if there are only synthetic) steroids. Also, if there are any natural steroids would it be possible for an athlete to get them in his daily diet? Would that disqualify him from any sporting events?

  • 31:01 - What's the fastest a human could run?

    What’s the fastest a human could run, theoretically. What’s the fastest a human could sprint at with the aid of all the latest blood and drug enhancements?

  • 34:09 - Cracking Down on Cheating Athletes

    How are sport officials cracking down on athletes using the wide range of drugs available to boost their performance, including the natural chemicals in use? We’ve got Jonathon Danaceau from the Sports Medicine Research and Testing Lab at the University of Utah to give us the an...

  • 39:58 - Running with Sports Technology

    Another method often used by athletes to reach their peak performance is to use the best equipment or clothing on the market. Whether it’s the lightest bicycle or the toughest tennis racket, having the best equipment on your side can make a real difference. So we sent Meera Sent...

  • 44:43 - Breathing Without Lungs?

    How is it possible for a Bornean flat-headed frog to have no lungs and breathe through its skin?

  • 52:50 - Regulating athletes' metabolism

    Can we not just monitor athletes to see how their metabolism is behaving and then regulate it so everyone has the same level?

  • 53:50 - Would athletes drug each other's drinks?

    I’ve always wondered something. If you were a really evil athlete and you had a competitor could you drug their drink in the pub the night before the event and they’d get knocked out of the competition?

  • 54:24 - Is high testosterone an advantage in sport?

    Are there just some people who have above-average levels of testosterone and that’s what gives them the advantage?

  • 55:25 - Drugs in our water supply?

    Drugs seem to be getting stronger and more common. Could they be excreted and end up in our water supply?

  • 56:12 - Is it faster to run barefoot?

    Is it faster to run barefoot? I run in my local sports track a few times a week trying to beat my personal best of 2:40 but to no avail. Last month, on a whim, I decided to run it barefoot. I ran 2:34 which is totally smashing my personal best. I’ve tried it again and since r...



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When was the last olympics to be drug free?, Tue, 15th Jul 2008

Has there EVER been a drug-free olympics? Since pre-history people have been using substances since they could walk let alone run!

Chris chris, Tue, 15th Jul 2008

That was going to be my question, I suppose the answer is "NO" then., Tue, 15th Jul 2008

I think it gets really hard to answer, because what do you call a drug? chris, Wed, 16th Jul 2008

OK. When were the last olymics that were free from manufactured performance enhancing drugs?, Wed, 16th Jul 2008

Pass! Anyone know? chris, Thu, 17th Jul 2008

Is it possible to work backwards? Does anyone know the last Olympics when someone was not caught using performance enhancing drugs?, Fri, 18th Jul 2008

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