Usain Bolt's Olympian achievements could put him in Titan's orbit, study says

Posted by pt91 at Mar 03, 2014 03:15 PM |
Physics students calculate that humans could fly on Saturn's moon
Usain Bolt's Olympian achievements could put him in Titan's orbit, study says

Credit: Steven Zwerink, via Wikipedia Commons.

Jamaica’s record-breaking Olympic sprinter may have earned the moniker ‘Lightning Bolt’ for his performance on the track, but our physics students have calculated that Usain Bolt may indeed be fast enough to shoot across the sky – on Titan, that is.

Having reached top speeds of 12.27 metres per second in competition, this would be more than fast enough for him to take off into the Saturnian moon's orbit without any need for propulsion and while wearing a regular wingsuit.

The students made the calculations in their final year paper for the Journal of Physics Special Topics, a peer-reviewed student journal run by the University’s Department of Physics and Astronomy.

To calculate the speed needed for Bolt to fly, the group factored in: the density of air at the surface of Titan; the acceleration due to gravity; an average wingsuit wing area (approximately 1.4 metres squared); and the ratio of the streamline path of the air above the aerofoil to that below the aerofoil.

The students aimed to investigate claims on the internet that humans would be able to fly on Titan, and indeed we can – although those of us without Usain Bolt’s sprinting ability are likely to need a wingsuit with a surface area more than three times larger than a regular-sized.