More Olympic Creatures

first_imgPlants and animals continue to amaze us with their Olympic-level abilities.  New observations promote some to the award stand.Diving:  For the first time, scientists succeeded in mounting a small video camera to the back of an imperial cormorant on the coast of Argentina, allowing humans to ride along and get a true bird’s eye view of its feeding behavior.  The BBC News  and Live Science posted the video, saying that the bird dives down 150 feet to the bottom in 40 seconds, spends a minute hunting, finds a fish, then comes up for air and lunch.  National Geographic said the video shocked researchers who didn’t know the birds dove so deep.  This is a rare opportunity to see a bird’s everyday athletics from its own perspective.Weight lifting:  PhysOrg posted an article about how male animals grow large structures like horns on beetles and antlers on elk.  Because the structures are linked to insulin usage, though, Olympic judges might disqualify them for doping.Moving plants:  We mustn’t discriminate against plants.  Even though most are anchored to the soil, they perform some remarkable feats in the track & field competition.  The BBC News posted a gallery called “Olympians of the botanical world.”  Did you know the bunchberry dogwood wins the shot put, explosively ejecting its spores at 800 G’s?  The fruits of the sandbox tree explode with the sound of a cannon.  Tumbleweeds win the marathon; they conquered the entire western US in under a decade.  And coast redwoods vault up to almost 380 feet above the forest floor.War games:  Thank goodness there is not an Olympic competition for terror, but if there were, some termites would qualify for suicide bombing, an article on New Scientist suggests.  Fortunately, the termites are altruistic; they only use their backpack explosives to save their fellow hivemates when the hive is under attack, and the aged termites are the ones who sacrifice themselves.  “The chemical warfare employed by N. taracua is ‘one of the most sophisticated examples of exploding we have seen’, says Hanus. ‘We were very surprised to see it but there are many phenomena in nature that are not yet in the textbooks.’”Not to shortchange humans, men and women are probably best in the all-around.  Live Science posted a video about medal contender Sarah Robles can lift 500 kg in the snatch and clean-and-jerk.  Robotics engineer Brian Zenowich remarked, “Watching what she’s doing, it just blows me away.”  At the London Olympic games this week, North Korean Kim Un Guk broke a world record, lifting three times his body weight (Mercury News), one of only a handful to accomplish this.  Humans also run, jump, throw, row, swim, shoot, ride, cycle, dive, do flips on a 4″ wide beam, and all the other amazing feats the Olympics bring together.As that robotics engineer well knows, none of this just happens.  It takes engineering.  When humans combine their equipment with motivation, drive, sacrifice, courage and perseverance to go farther, faster and higher, it’s thrilling to watch.  We give them the credit for the work, but should we not honor the workmanship of the Creator much more? (Visited 27 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

Two-sport star Van Dyk still going strong

first_img29 April 2013South Africa’s Ernst van Dyk, who won a silver medal in the hotly contested London Paralympic hand cycling road race at Brands Hatch, is a two-sport star. His most recent foray abroad brought him more wheelchair racing success in the Boston and London marathons.Van Dyk, a nine-time Boston Marathon winner, claimed silver this time around in the American city and picked up bronze in London a week later.“These two marathons have always been back-to-back, so to win a double six days apart would be quite an achievement,” he said in an interview with Cycling South Africa.HecticVan Dyk endured a hectic six days in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombings, but thankfully returned home unscathed. “Initially we heard the first explosion,” he said. “Nobody was sure what it was. I thought it might be premature fireworks and everyone ran to the window of the hotel where we were celebrating the end of the race.“As we stared out, the second explosion occurred right in front of our window. It was an incredible blast and people got badly hurt. I couldn’t imagine who would do such a thing.“The Boston marathon has so much history. And they didn’t attack the runners. It was targeted at the families supporting the athletes.”SwimmingThe South African star, who as a 17-year-old also competed in swimming at the 1992 Barcelona Paralympics, has been one of the leading wheelchair racers in the two marathons for the past 14 years, but he also switches to hand cycling from time to time too.“For the London Paralympics I focused on cycling,” he said. “During the Beijing Paralympics, I won a gold medal in the cycling road race and a bronze medal in the wheelchair marathon. I was the only athlete to medal in two sporting codes.”Discussing last year’s Paralympic Games, Van Dyk added: “For London, we did not get a lot of athletics spots, so I gave up my place, which I achieved by finishing in sixth at the 2011 World Champs, so that a youngster could make the team, seeing that I was already going for cycling.”Van Dyk says the two sports of hand cycling and wheelchair racing are similar in terms of tactics. “The big difference is that in wheelchair racing we don’t have a crank, chain or gears. So physically, it’s very pure.Only two“I’m one of the very few athletes doing both disciplines. I think there are only two of us.”Besides his achievements in competition, Van Dyk is also very proud of the fact that he was the first person with a disability to graduate with a degree in sports science from Stellenbosch University.He is an ambassador for the International Paralympic Committee and the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation.SAinfo reporterWould you like to use this article in your publication or on your website? See: Using SAinfo materiallast_img read more

Dalit women ‘denied’ entry in U.P. temple

first_imgDalit women of a village in Bulandshahr say they are not being allowed to enter a temple by people of “higher caste”, in an alleged case of caste discrimination. Police have promised to look into the case after members of the community protested and a video lending credence to the charge went viral on social media. Women in Rakehra village of Khurja belonging to the Valmiki community were stopped at the gates of Chamad Mandir and allegedly assaulted by “local hooligans” when they protested. In the video, the women are seen confronting a young man stopping them outside the temple. When he tells them the temple is a private property, the women remind him that they have been praying there every year. The man is heard saying they could very well go to the police or the local politicians and the women retort that they are not afraid of anybody and threaten to sit on a dharna.last_img read more