Biological clocks have sizeable effects on the performance of elite athletes. This conclusion was drawn by chronobiologists from the University of Groningen after studying the times achieved by swimmers in four different Olympic Games. Shifting the clock to reach peak performance at the right time could make the difference between winning and losing. The results were published on 8 October in the journal Scientific Reports.
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‘In many sports, the differences between coming first or second, or winning no medal at all, are very small,’ explains Renske Lok, first author of the paper and former PhD student at the University of Groningen. ‘We wondered whether an athlete’s biological clock was playing a role.’ This clock determines our bodies’ daily rhythms: it regulates physiological characteristics such as core body temperature and blood glucose levels. ‘And we know that peak performance usually coincides with the peak in core body temperature,’ says Lok.
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To celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Olympic Games Sydney 2000, the famous white exterior sails of the Sydney Opera House are becoming an enormous movie screen, showing Australian Catherine Freeman’s 400-metre gold medal win on 25 September 2000. She ran her final in 49.11 seconds, becoming the first Aboriginal athlete to win gold in an individual event at the Olympic Games.
The cinematic event celebrates not only Freeman’s historic achievement, but also its audiovisual preservation for future generations on an innovative, sustainable, long-term storage technology called “synthetic DNA”. This has been made possible thanks to a partnership between the Olympic Foundation for Culture and Heritage (OFCH) and the National Film and Sound Archive of Australia (NFSA).
The synthetic DNA project is a world first, and Freeman’s 400-metre gold medal win is the first Australian video to be encoded.
The master recording of the historic race has been
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Cathy Freeman’s triumphant Olympic moment two decades ago officially became part of Australia’s genome Friday, with the nation’s archivists using synthetic DNA data storage to preserve the footage.
As footage of Freeman’s 400m dash to Olympic glory was projected onto the sails of Sydney Opera House, the National Film and Sound Archive(NFSA) celebrated the digitisation and successful storage of the video in synthetic DNA.
“Tonight our celebration is two-fold, the anniversary of that race… and we celebrate the awesome technological innovation,” NFSA chair Gabrielle Trainor said.
The announcement marked exactly 20 years since Freeman raced into sporting history by becoming the first Aboriginal person to win an individual gold medal.
The DNA storage works by converting data stored in a computer’s binary code of ones and zeros -— in this case digitised footage -— and transcribing it into DNA code made of four chemical rungs: adenine, cytosine, guanine and thymine.