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The Physics of the Olympics

“Faster, higher, stronger.” The Olympic motto also expresses some of the underlying physics of the Games: velocity, kinetic energy, force. 

All Olympic athletes – whether slicing through a pool, hurling a discus, or dismounting the parallel bars – must contend with the universal physical laws governing nature.

Jumpers battle gravity, swimmers push through viscosity, throwers harness aerodynamics, lifters struggle with mass.

Here’s a look at some of the physics concepts at play during the Olympic and Paralympic Games, and how scientific know-how contributes to medal-winning performances.

01Archery

02Diver

03Gymnast

04Jumper

05MagnusEffect

06Sprinter

07Rowers

08Javelin

10Weightlifters

11Runner

12Discus

13Trampoline

14Cyclist

15Rugby

09Bohr

Watch a Perimeter Institute public lecture by Dr. Vilhelm Bohr about his remarkable ancestors.

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