From the Live Blog: On Usain Bolt, Chris Johnson, and Neutrinos

[Preface: With apologies to people those of you who sat through or otherwise already read my NFL Live Blog from Sunday, it is incredibly long, so I thought maybe I should split out individual posts for some of the individual topics I covered.  I’ve removed the time-stamps and re-organized a bit, but this is all original, so it obviously may not be as clean or detailed as a regular article (any additional comments I’ll put in brackets or at the end).  If this sort of stuff interests you, I will be live-blogging again this Sunday.]

Tom Coughlin thinks LeSean McCoy is the fastest running back in the NFL? Which would make him faster than Chris Johnson? Who thinks he’s faster than Usain Bolt?  What is he, a neutrino?

And sorry about the neutrino joke.  Incidentally, it probably goes without saying, but CJ is not as fast as Bolt in the 40. Bolt is the fastest man on earth at any distance from 50 meters to 300.  Here’s a Bolt graph:

Since we know his split time (minus reaction) over 32.8 yards was 3.64 seconds, using the curve above we can nail down his time at 40 yards pretty accurately: it’s around 4.19 to 4.21. (Note, the first 50 Meters of Bolt’s 100M world record were faster than the record for 50 meters indoors.)

Incidentally, Chris Johnson’s 40 time of 4.25 is bogus.  I won’t go into all the details, but I’ve calculated his likely 40 time (for purposes of comparison with Bolt), and it’s more like 4.5 [+/- .1].  Of course, that’s a bit of “apples to oranges” while combine times vs. each other are “apples to apples,” but the point is that Bolt’s advantage over CJ is much bigger than .05. [If you’re interested in my method, I did some extrapolation based on Chris Johnson’s track times, using a number of favorable assumptions for him.  I may post more of this at some point if there’s interest, but the basic gist is that CJ’s 100M time is way too slow: Even if you assume he has gotten much faster in the last few years, and that he was much faster over even shorter distances, the amount of improvement he would need on his 100M time to grade out as faster than 4.4ish on 40 yards is impossible.]

Matt Glassman asked:

So, if I’m reading the Bolt graph correctly, there are two inflection points, one when he hits his top speed around 75 yards and another when he turns on his finishing kick around 100 yards.

Is there any theoretical or empirical work that you know of on the efficiency of those inflection points? Would make for a fascinating study.

Matt: I’ve seen a few things, but I don’t have the links in front of me. Prior to Berlin, Usain was definitely known as a slow starter with a crazy top speed that made up for it, but in his 9.58 WR run he was pretty much textbook and led wire to wire, posting the fastest splits ever at every point.

[Tangent on Neutrinos]

So this Neutrino [measured as faster-than-light, in case you’ve been living under a rock or aren’t a total dork] situation is pretty fascinating to me.  What’s amazing is that, even days later, no one has been able to posit a good theory for either the result-as-good OR where the error might be coming from.

Note this wasn’t like some random crackpot scientist, this was a massive team at CERN, which is like the Supreme Court of the particle physics world.

It’s a bit like if you brought the world’s best mathematicians and computer scientists together to design a simple and effective way to calculate Pi, only to have it spit out 3.15.  It just can’t possibly be, yet no one has a good explanation for how they screwed up.

To complicate things further, you have previous, “statistically insignificant” results at MINOS that also clocked neutrinos as FTL.  Indepedently, this should be irrelevant, but as a Bayesian matter, a prior consistent result — even an “insignificant” one — can exponentially increase the likelihood of the latter being valid.  If it had been any other discovery, this would be iron-clad evidence, and it would probably be scientific “consensus” by now.

So, as a second-order observation, assuming they eventually do find whatever the error may be in this case, doesn’t it suggest that there may be other “consensus” issues with similarly difficult-to-find errors underlying them that were simply never challenged b/c they weren’t claiming that 2+2=5?

I think I’m required by Nerd Law to post the XKCD comic on the topic:

[End Tangent]

So, according to the commentators, Mike Wallace is now the fastest player in the NFL, which makes him faster than LeSean McCoy, who (as the fastest RB) is faster than Chris Johnson, who (by proclamation) is faster than Usain Bolt, who is the fastest man on the planet.  So either someone is an alien (or a neutrino! [sorry, can’t help myself]), or something’s got to give.

So before this is over, one more fun fact about Usain Bolt: In his 100M record run, he maintained a minimum speed over a 40 meter stretch that no other man has ever achieved over 10.

One Response to “From the Live Blog: On Usain Bolt, Chris Johnson, and Neutrinos”

  1. Sydney Russel says:

    Finally someone who knows that Chris Johnson is no where near the fastest man in the NFL. His best legal 100m time is 10.66. The Sports Science show on Johnson was a total farce. Fastest man in NFL history is Jimmy Hines Dolphins and Chiefs in the early 70’s. 9.95 100m. First human to break the 10 second barrier.

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