loud and silent guns and the position of the starter


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loud and silent guns and the position of the starter

Postby johnclark » Fri Apr 12, 2013 4:43 am

I have recently been reading this very interesting article in T&FN by Lennart Julin:

http://www.trackandfieldnews.com/result ... times.html

I've got two questions on some of this, which I hope someone out there might be able to help with. The first relates to this part of the article:

What the loudspeakers relay to the athletes is just the Starter's verbal commands, not the "bang". That sound still travels through the air from the gun to the ears of the athletes. And it even has to be like this! Because if the "bang" would be coming through both loudspeakers and air the athletes would be experience two distinct shots, which would then be interpreted as a starting "bang" followed by a recall!!


My first question is if this is true. See, I always thought - based on what I read - that the sound of the gun DID come through the loudspeakers as well as 'directly' from the gun and the athletes did hear two 'bangs'. Have I been mistaken?

The funny thing is that in the chart at the bottom of the article, the distribution for the races in 2000 looks to have a peak at around 0.14 seconds and a peak at 0.18 seconds, as if some athletes responded to the sound through the loudspeakers, at around 0.14 seconds, and others responded to the actual sound of the gun, a few hundredths later. That is, the distribution seems to verify what I had previously thought was the case. Of course, there is not a lot of data points, so it could just be 'noise' in the data.

My second question is from this part:

... the Olympic Starter chosing to position himself extremely far away (from the TV it could be estimated that he was perhaps 20 metres from the nearest runner)!
...
in Atlanta 1996 when the Starter was not so far away as in Sydney the loss was still 2-3 hundredths,


I have now watched the footage of both the 1996 and 2000 race on youtube a LOT of times and I cannot tell where the starter is among all those people at the side. Can anyone see the starter in either race?

Also, did the position of the starter really change that much between Olympics? The starter is obvious in this footage from 1980, but I have not found the starter in any other footage.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4RR1stxSOCg

If anyone has any photos, footage or anything on where the starter was positioned for any of the sprints from any Olympics then that would be great!

Thanks in advance!
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Re: loud and silent guns and the position of the starter

Postby Daisy » Fri Apr 12, 2013 5:59 am

johnclark wrote:See, I always thought - based on what I read - that the sound of the gun DID come through the loudspeakers as well as 'directly' from the gun and the athletes did hear two 'bangs'. Have I been mistaken?


I always thought it was one or the other, but not both.
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Re: loud and silent guns and the position of the starter

Postby johnclark » Fri Apr 12, 2013 6:10 am

Oops - I should have worded the second question better. I know where the starter was for all the 100m men's finals from 1936 to 1968 and 1980. The youtube footage is pretty good on these. The other years are more difficult.
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Re: loud and silent guns and the position of the starter

Postby Jackaloupe » Fri Apr 12, 2013 8:32 am

John, Are those o.14 and 0.18 Reaction Times, or something else akin to what you're referring to? You don't define them. If they're Reaction Times, that's well w/in the norm, if a bit quick.
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Re: loud and silent guns and the position of the starter

Postby johnclark » Fri Apr 12, 2013 1:59 pm

Jackaloupe wrote:John, Are those o.14 and 0.18 Reaction Times, or something else akin to what you're referring to? You don't define them. If they're Reaction Times, that's well w/in the norm, if a bit quick.


Yes, they are reaction times.

Actually, the 0.18 seconds is not quick. Here is the average reaction times for world championship and olympic 100m mens finals since 1995.

1996 0.157
1997 0.135
1999 0.141
2000 0.182
2001 0.148
2003 0.140
2004 0.167
2005 0.142
2007 0.153
2008 0.146
2009 0.139
2011 0.166
2012 0.162

You can see that the 2000 final has comfortably the slowest reaction times of all the years, at an average of 0.182 seconds:

0.197 Maurice Greene
0.136 Ato Boldon
0.216 Obadele Thompson
0.174 Dwain Chambers
0.147 Jon Drummond
0.193 Darren Campbell
0.210 Kim Collins
0.180 Abdul Aziz Zakari

Check out how consistent the averages are for the WC finals from 1995 to 2009 (the 2011 final is slower, probably due to the no false start rule starting then). The WC finals average reaction times vary between 0.135 and 0.153 seconds - that's a very small range, and the 2000 Olympics is much slower.
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Re: loud and silent guns and the position of the starter

Postby Daisy » Fri Apr 12, 2013 2:32 pm

johnclark wrote:The funny thing is that in the chart at the bottom of the article, the distribution for the races in 2000 looks to have a peak at around 0.14 seconds and a peak at 0.18 seconds, as if some athletes responded to the sound through the loudspeakers, at around 0.14 seconds, and others responded to the actual sound of the gun, a few hundredths later.

Or Drummond and Boldon both got a flyer?
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Re: loud and silent guns and the position of the starter

Postby johnclark » Fri Apr 12, 2013 4:09 pm

Daisy wrote:
johnclark wrote:The funny thing is that in the chart at the bottom of the article, the distribution for the races in 2000 looks to have a peak at around 0.14 seconds and a peak at 0.18 seconds, as if some athletes responded to the sound through the loudspeakers, at around 0.14 seconds, and others responded to the actual sound of the gun, a few hundredths later.

Or Drummond and Boldon both got a flyer?


Yes, its possible that the athletes around 0.14 seconds all got flyers. That's all speculation though. What I want to know is if anyone here actually knows the answer to if the gun sound went through both the speakers and the air or just the air.
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Re: loud and silent guns and the position of the starter

Postby johnclark » Fri Apr 12, 2013 4:54 pm

Here is a link to an article which seems to claim that the sound went through both the air and the speakers:

http://www.trackandfieldnews.com/featur ... oblem.html

Here is a quote:

In the 1970s, a special starting system was devised to minimize this time. A microphone picked up the sound of the gun report, and transmitted the sound's electrical signal through a wire to loudspeakers in the starting blocks. At 30 degrees Celsius, sound travels through the air at 349 m/s, but electricity travels at the speed of light (300 million m/s). Therefore, this starting system should, in effect, allow all the athletes to hear the starter's shot simultaneously, immediately after the gun is fired.


The funny thing is that this article actually references the article I used originally, which claims that the sound did not come through the speakers at the Olympics!
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