Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt is the fastest human ever recorded in a race, with an average speed of 37 km/hour. Is Bolt at the upper limit of what we humans can physically achieve? It would appear as if our bodies aren't able to take any higher impact forces through our legs, but according to the latest episode of RiAus's A Week in Science, new research has shown that hopping on one leg can increase these forces by 30%, which goes to show that our bodies can actually take much more.
Researchers now think that our speed is limited by how fast our muscles can contract and exert force in the extremely small amount of time that our foot is on the ground when we're sprinting - less than one-tenth of a second. With this in mind, they think that humans are capable of running over 60 km/h.
Is this actually possible? Humans are thought to have already run faster than Bolt. Fossilised footprints found in Australia revealed signs of an indigenous man running at what measurements revealed to be a speed of 37 km/h. Sure, that's the same speed as Bolt, but this man was likely running in mud or water, and without the high-tech modern shoes and hard surface of an Olympic running track.
And guess what else they found in these footprints? A one-legged man with a mind-blowingly fast sprint. Watch the latest episode of A Week in Science above to find out what this means for the human speed limit.