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‘Apples and Pineapples’

This was the description Paralympian sprinter Jerome Singleton used to compare the current arrangements for races between single amputees, like himself, and double amputees like Oscar Pistorius and Alan Oliveira, the man who beat Pistorius earlier this week.

Jerome Singleton is not only an elite athlete who competes in the T44 100m final tomorrow night, he is also a NASA scientist, so I tend to think he knows what he is talking about. He is not the only athlete to think that the rules need tightening up.

Whole article can be read here

Several of the runners said Wednesday that while Pistorius’s comments were ill-timed, they supported his point that the IPC needs to re-evaluate and tighten the formula in the interest of fairness.

Singleton, a single leg amputee, even suggested that IPC should perhaps run races for two classes, the T44s like himself, and the T43s like Pistorius, Oliveira and Leeper. Of the 20 athletes that raced the heats, only five were double-leg amputees and three of them qualified for the final.

“The classes need to be split,” said Singleton, who upset Pistorius in the 100 metres at the 2011 world championships. “It’s not apples to apples, it’s like apples to pineapples right now. If they want to keep us together, they need to re-evaluate that formula.”

“We need to have an idea of the exact height for an athlete to run in, and maybe have a variation of like one centimetre, so you know you’re racing the same athlete in all competitions. Single-leg amputees, we don’t have too much maneouvring when it comes to height.”

“As time changes, science changes, so we have to make sure it’s fair to all competitors.”

Single-leg amputee Alister McQueen of Calgary, who ran a disappointing 12.02 and failed to qualify for the final, agreed with Singleton that the formula needs to be changed.

“With the formula they use, they’re just not proportional,” he said. “Every person running here is not breaking any rules, they’re not doing anything wrong. It’s just that the rules leave such a wide vary of what they can do with their prosthetics. If they do tighten it up to where it makes more sense, I don’t think they’ll need to split up the classes.

“It’s one of the most exciting races in the Paralympics and we don’t want to get away from that. We just want to even up the field.”

Leaving the apples and pineapples debate aside, the T44 100m final tomorrow evening is going to be huge. Going into it, the British contender Jonnie Peacock is the faster qualifier; running a time today of 11.08 seconds that equalled the existing Paralympic record. That time is a shade short of his own world record of 10.85, set earlier this summer and this evening he was running into a strong headwind…

Tomorrow’s final has all the right ingredients for an unmissable race. A strong start is going to be key and that may be to Peacock’s advantage. We’ll see.

Unbelievably, I have read there is no mainstream coverage of the event in the USA? Is this really the case? A real missed opportunity if it is and one that should be rectified for the future.

Copyright: The Sun
Between Oscar and Jonnie?
Or will Jerome have something to say about that

‘We are Stardust’

That’s part of what Professor Brian Cox was on about on Sunday evenings a few months ago, on the BBC programme Wonders of the Universe, as he wafted about the world in a D:ream; in case you missed it.

It’s a minor miracle in itself that I ever watched the programme (but now I want the box set). Until quite recently I would have been vehement in my hatred of such scientific subject matter. In Physics at school I used to beg to be allowed to sit at the back and copy out of the text book, rather than participate in experiments. Well they called them experiments, but they weren’t really as everyone pretty much knew what was going to happen in any case.

My teenage self-study of the Sciences at school resulted in my achieving a Physics CSE at the giddy heights of a grade 2 – which far outstripped my performance in the other Sciences (Chemistry/Biology) where I scraped through with a pair of 3s.

Anyway, lately I have found the world of Physics fascinating. I don’t understand it much, I have to read the same page a few times when I tackle any book on the subject, but every little piece of information I do manage to glean is utterly mind-expanding and entirely absorbing.

The stardust in the blog title comes from this assertion: all atoms were created in the heart of a star. That’s all the atoms that make up us, the world, everything in it, our universe and all those beyond. We were born in the death of an exploding star and when we die our atoms will return to the universe. Now I have spent hours and hours in church and never once found a smattering of comfort in the religious narrative of creation. The Wonder of the Universe has far more resonance – what a pity we couldn’t have done that in CSE Physics Mr Butterworth.

The obvious song to put up would be the Joni Mitchell ‘Woodstock’ but I have to confess I am disappointed with the lyric spoiling hard science with religious references and, actually, I hate the tune. Let’s have Prof. Bri Cox (soon to gig at Glasto) instead.

Oh no let’s not. It’s an awful song.

A exploded star: Helix Nebula or the Eye of God

Do you need wellies on the Moon?

Hard on the heels of the news that the moon’s surface contains miniscule amounts of water, is the revelation that today two spacecraft will be crashing into one of the moon’s craters – one that never gets any sunlight somewhere near its South Pole.  Already there are some spooky parallels with a corner in my garden – a site where the sun never shines and man rarely ventures except to chuck detritrus.

The purpose of the crash impact is to see if there is a big fat moon puddle at the bottom of the crater. After one craft has “splashed” down, another craft will be collecting the dust and matter thrown up into a 6 mile high cloud for analysis. Then in a move that I can’t quite grasp, the second craft will also crash making a second, smaller cloud of stuff and nonsense.

Of course the establishment of whether there is indeed water on the moon is very interesting. Visit the NASA website after 12.30 this afternoon for more news or you may be able to watch live on the following link. I have checked it out just now and they were chatting to some guys in brown chinos and navy polo shirts. There was a bit of drifting around the screen, so I surmise that they were in space somewhere, whilst dressed for the Mall.

NASA TV Public Channel

I happen to think crashing into another planet, not once but twice, is a bit bloody rude though. I just hope the Clangers and the Soup Dragon have got out of the way first.

Duck chaps!

Duck chaps!