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Records were made to be broken

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As you watch the World Series, you will note that a graphic on the screen gives you the speed of every pitch. When the strong pitchers are really humming the ball, they get up to 95 mph. The faster the pitch, the harder it is for a batter to hit it. The golden standard for fastball "smoke" is 100 mph. The first of the 100 mph pitchers was probably Bob Feller, who went straight from high school in Iowa to the major leagues in the late '30s with the Cleveland Indians. When Feller was just 17 years old he struck out 17 major league batters in one game. Feller set a record in 1946 by throwing a pitch 107.9 mph in a game at Griffith Stadium. Only a few pitchers today can hit 100 mph.

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There have always been levels of performance once considered impossible. The four minute mile was one of them. The question was, "Can any human being possibly run one mile in four minutes?" Finally, in 1954, an Englishman named Roger Bannister did the impossible -- he ran a mile in 3:59.4, a world record. Once that mental barrier was broken, the world record was broken 18 more times and is currently held by Hiram El Guerrouj of Morocco, who set it in 1999 with a time of 3:43.13.

In high jump competition, the competitors keep improving jump techniques. Using the "scissors" technique, jumpers in the 1800s could just clear 6'. Then the scissors was modified in 1895 to an "eastern cut off, " and a new world record was set at 6'5". Then in 1912, the "western roll" was developed and the record went up to 6'7". The question at this point was, "Can any human being possibly high jump over 7 feet?" Then the "straddle" technique was invented and Charles Dumas became the first human being to jump 7 feet in 1956. Once that barrier was broken, jumpers kept improving and jumping higher and higher, 7'4" in 1960, 7'6" in 1964. Then a funny guy named Dick Fosbury came up with a new twist -- he jumped over the bar backwards. They called his style the "Fosbury Flop." The records went up and up. "Can a human being possibly jump 8 feet?" That question was answered in 1993 by Javier Sotomayer of Cuba, who jumped an incredible 8'1/2". That record has stood all these 16 years and nobody has come close since, even though jumpers are now studying physics for new answers. Will anybody ever jump higher? You have to wonder -- you can study physics all you want, but the law of gravity is unyielding.

When the first jet plane exceeded the speed of sound (768 mph, depending on temperature), the result was a sonic boom. The speed was labeled Mach I and any greater speed was called "Supersonic." There was something about the sound barrier that stirred the imagination of fliers, engineers and scientists and they all began to think about Mach II, Mach III and beyond. Today, we have spacecraft Helios I and II Solar Probes that have shot through space at 157,078 mph, which translates to Mach 204.5. When and where will it end? Only at the end of man's imagination and ingenuity. By the way, when you crack a bullwhip, the tip pops because it is exceeding the speed of sound. It was probably a bullwhip that first went supersonic.

Men and women grow faster, stronger and smarter all the time. Technology jumps forward by leaps and bounds overnight. Records are made to be broken. We will soon be able to put 5,000 songs on a single computer chip (if we haven't already). You might wonder why anybody would need 5,000 songs in one little package, but that's another issue. The point is that we are curious, competitive, adventurous and ambitious, always in search of new frontiers to conquer, and the barriers of the past are simply hurdles to be jumped over today and tomorrow.

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