The US sprinters Allyson Felix and Jeneba Tarmoh are equally fast. How do we know? Well, yesterday, during the women’s 100 meter Olympics qualifier, they both finished the sprint in 11.068 seconds — and not even a camera running at 3,000 frames per second could tell their performance apart.
Usually a high-speed camera, which takes three pictures every thousandth of a second, can easily tell who crossed the line first. Unsurprising, as its frame rate gives it a precision of just 300 nanosecond between frames.
But Felix and Tarmoh have pushed that precision to the limit, crossing the line simultaneously as far as the camera can tell, with Felix’s head nudging over the finish line at the exact same time that Tamoh’s hand did the same. Unfortunately for the pair they both placed third, and the rules state that only the three fastest runners can progress through to the Olympics.
Sadly, this is where technology runs out. If neither chooses to concede their third place spot — and why would they? — the decision is made through the toss of a US quarter. Something tells us faster cameras might be on the way to sporting arenas in London as we speak. [CNN via The Verge]