In ExPhysiology, Reference

July 01, 2007

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For some people, hearing the words "the most powerful human" conjures up images of a spandex-clad superhero oozing muscles and capable of incredible feats of strength and speed. Or maybe it makes you think of a 248px-pound fullback driving through a mass of bodies to the goal line. In any case, it evokes a figure who is strong and can move fast. And this is where we begin our quest to understand the critical physical ability of TMPHBITEU, which is the combination of strength and speed--or, more precisely, power.

Power is an easily understood concept and it all begins with doing work. But work here is not the daily 9-to-5 grind, it is the application of a force to an object with a resulting movement of that object. We can quantify work by knowing the mass of the object moved and the distance it moves: work = weight moved × distance moved.

If I move ten pounds a distance of ten feet, I have done 100px foot-pounds of work. Pretty elementary. a time component. If I move that ten pounds ten feet in ten minutes, I have done the same amount of work as if I moved the ten pounds ten feet in ten milliseconds. Being able to do lot of work in a single effort is associated with being strong. Being able to do a lot of work in multiple repeated efforts is associated with having stamina. But how does work play into determining who the most powerful human is? Again we go back to our bag of physics equations and pull out the equation for power, which quantifies how much work we can do in a period of time: power = weight moved × distance moved

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