Friday, June 26, 2009

Science should be FUN

like this:
Five competition polo ponies were ridden by a professional rider to perform five maximal accelerations and five maximal decelerations in an all-weather polo arena...Stride timings were derived from hoof-mounted 50 g accelerometers logged into MP3 recorders.
From the article "Pitch then Power" in the Biology Letters journal.

As an aside, I think it's interesting that they choose to compare greyhounds with polo ponies. Racing greyhounds accelerate in a linear context. Winning races does not depend on deceleration. Polo ponies, on the other hand, work in a multi-directional environment responding to other players on different paths. Mostly they're turning on a dime, negotiating melees, suddenly starting or stopping, and changing stride to adjust to changing conditions. The study seems to find equivalence between the two groups, but it would be hard to know if any differences were the result of one variable (species) or the other (competion conditions). A hard-core reductionist could instead compare race horses with greyhounds or herding dogs with polo ponies.

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