The Most Burly Hurls

Uploaded by minutephysics on 03.08.2012

Let's have a face-off of the most burly olympic hurling events - the Hammer throw, Javelin,
Discus, and Shot Put. The Hammer and the Shot each weigh 16 pounds, which is two or three
babies-worth of iron either swung around at the end of a chain or hurled with brute strength.
The discus, as you may know, is basically a four-pound frisbee, and the javelin is,
well, a javelin.
Now, Olympians can toss all of these things pretty far - I mean, in the 1980s they had
to redesign the javelin to make it harder to throw, because athletes were starting to
lob it farther than the entire length of a stadium and into the stands…
It still has the longest world record, but the javelin is considerably lighter than the
other implements, so which one – the hammer, javelin, discus, or shot – gets thrown with
the most energy? Ignoring trivial things like air resistance and lift, we can figure out
roughly how much energy each implement has just by knowing its weight and how far it
gets thrown.
So in fourth place, a javelin thrown the world-record distance has enough energy to power a 50W
light bulb for eight seconds. In third is the discus, powering a lightbulb for fifteen
seconds, and squeezing into second with one more second of illumination is the shot. But
the gold medal goes by far to the hammer throw, hurled with enough energy to power a lightbulb
for a full minute!
Now that's hammering the competition.