9.63 Seconds vs. 7 Minutes of Terror

Over the weekend, there were two great news stories, first Usain Bolt defended his Olympic 100 m sprint title, then NASA successfully landed the Curiosity Rover on Mars. Much of the world collectively watched  (slightly delayed in the US for Bolt’s race) as Usain Bolt (he has one of those names that must be said in full) broke his Olympic record.

After his victory Usain Bolt showed just how classy of a guy he is by stopping mid interview to listen and respect the American National Anthem. That class and excitement that he brings to the sport is part of the reason his fame is so widespread, and that his signature pose can be seen around the world.


The New York Times has a great feature, showing how impressive Usain Bolt’s performance was, and how the 100 m times have changed over the past 116 years. While the improved times are impressive, they pale in comparison to the changes made in the Olympic Gymnastics Vault competition.

The gold medal gymnastics vault of 1956 Olympics vs. the best vault of the 2012 Olympics, click to see in action. Source

Yet for all the excitement of Usain Bolt’s win, perhaps the most exciting thing this weekend was the successfully landing of the Mars Rover, Curiosity, to which Google alluded to in their daily Olympic themed Doodle. To watch the landing in full, click here, but for the abridged version, complete with animation, click here. The landing of Curiosity involved what was known as the “7 minutes of terror“, where for 7 minutes the complicated landing maneuver was performed on autopilot, and engineers at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory had to wait. Engineers like Bobak Ferdowsi, who became one of many memes to pop-up in light of the successful landing. Once news of the successful landing reached JPL the engineers celebrated much the same as if they had just won the Gold medal.

For both of these great feats that happened this weekend, I think this picture of Bill Nye pretty much sums up my feelings.



3 thoughts on “9.63 Seconds vs. 7 Minutes of Terror

  1. Pingback: Science and Critical Thinking | On a Quasi-Related Note

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