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(Ars Technica)   Every generation of engineers needs to relearn that "simulation ≠ reality". This years example-the guys that designed those "high tech" Olympic speed-skating suits and didn't bother to test them out before the competition   (arstechnica.com ) divider line
    More: Fail, Under Armour, wind tunnels, olympics  
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2885 clicks; posted to Sports » on 05 May 2014 at 9:54 AM (2 years ago)   |   Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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View Voting Results: Smartest and Funniest
 
2014-05-05 08:19:55 AM  
Ha.
 
2014-05-05 08:44:36 AM  
Okay who thought it was a good idea to introduce so many new things all at once just before ANY competition without training time?  But the important thing is that it was somebody else's fault.
 
2014-05-05 09:00:26 AM  
This is why all Olympic records should be invalid unless the athletes nude.

Possibly NSFW
 
2014-05-05 09:01:59 AM  
Meh, don't blame the suits, you just got your asses kicked.
 
2014-05-05 09:32:44 AM  

basemetal: Meh, don't blame the suits, you just got your asses kicked.


They didn't just blame the suits.
They also blamed the polish, the high altitude training and one more thing.....I can't remember.
 
2014-05-05 09:43:29 AM  
Blame the Dutch.
 
2014-05-05 10:06:24 AM  
Wrong!  If the Global Warming Climate Change debate has taught us anything it's that simulation takes precedence over reality.  :-)
 
2014-05-05 10:06:52 AM  
FTFA: "and reportedly tested in wind tunnels on fiberglass dummies. However, none of the team members had worn them, let alone trained in them, before Sochi. "

Nice headline fail.  Sounds like the engineers did do some testing.  I'm sure it was their decision to NOT have the skaters try them out...
 
2014-05-05 10:14:38 AM  
They also got their asses handed to them by the Dutch, just like everybody else.
 
2014-05-05 10:17:25 AM  

Tr0mBoNe: Blame the Dutch.


gregoire4: They also got their asses handed to them by the Dutch, just like everybody else.


THIS.
Don't blame the suits.
 
2014-05-05 10:21:55 AM  
Must be the same project manager that bungled the F-35.
 
2014-05-05 10:25:08 AM  
maybe next time they should try to skate faster?
 
2014-05-05 10:47:48 AM  

flynn80: Must be the same project manager that bungled the F-35.


Or the one that had the F22s instrumentation stop working when they crossed the international date line.
 
2014-05-05 10:49:09 AM  

goatan: Didn't they still get beat when they changed back to the old suit?


Yes but with some real life testing they could have gotten the suits worked out on where to affix the hidden rocket motors, they would have won.
 
2014-05-05 10:50:14 AM  

grokca: basemetal: Meh, don't blame the suits, you just got your asses kicked.

They didn't just blame the suits.
They also blamed the polish, the high altitude training and one more thing.....I can't remember.


Obama?
 
2014-05-05 10:53:39 AM  

Expressed Written Consent: FTFA: "and reportedly tested in wind tunnels on fiberglass dummies. However, none of the team members had worn them, let alone trained in them, before Sochi. "

Nice headline fail.  Sounds like the engineers did do some testing.  I'm sure it was their decision to NOT have the skaters try them out...


mannequin + air tunnel = simulation
human + track time = test
 
2014-05-05 10:54:21 AM  
skate polish?? thats a thing?? and it can slow you down??

lip balm would have been the better excuse
 
2014-05-05 10:56:23 AM  
The Dutch could have been wearing tuxedos and still blown everyone's doors off.
 
2014-05-05 11:13:01 AM  

Yanks_RSJ: The Dutch could have been wearing tuxedos and still blown everyone's doors off.


True, but the Americans weren't, like, placing fourth or anything. It was 7th. 8th. Double digits. They got beat by a LOT of skaters. They got their asses handed to them.

I'm still putting altitude training as the chief culprit. You train in conditions that will match those of the competition. When the rink is at sea level, you train at the lowest-altitude rink you've got... something the Dutch had in spades. That's why before the Super Bowl, the Seahawks and Broncos were practicing with the doors open at the training facility. Because they expected the game to be cold and wanted to train in the cold.
 
2014-05-05 11:29:28 AM  

SirDigbyChickenCaesar: Expressed Written Consent: FTFA: "and reportedly tested in wind tunnels on fiberglass dummies. However, none of the team members had worn them, let alone trained in them, before Sochi. "

Nice headline fail.  Sounds like the engineers did do some testing.  I'm sure it was their decision to NOT have the skaters try them out...

mannequin + air tunnel = simulation
human + track time = test


computer + maths = simulation
mannequin + air tunnel = test
delivering product based on that result ≠  engineers
 
2014-05-05 11:59:49 AM  
Yeah, actually that is an important lesson that all engineers need to eventually learn, and there are a surprising number that don't understand that, but its even more remarkable how many of the general public don't understand that. I currently work in material testing, and every month or so we get some business manager from a company saying they don't need us to run certain tests because their simulations will give them all the data they need, even if their engineers want to get it to verify the simulations. A few months later they come back and order the extra tests because the component they make is not working as the simulation predicted.

Also:

georgep68: Wrong!  If the Global Warming Climate Change debate has taught us anything it's that simulation takes precedence over reality.  :-)


This comment makes it very clear you listen to talking heads rather than actual scientists doing Climate Change research. This is because, like I note above, its the non-scientists that normally don't get the fact that simulation is not directly analogous to the real environment. Those differences are the primary factors that drive simulation development - a scientist uses a model with a data set, makes a prediction, compares again real data, finds the differences, and then attempts to figure out the important physics their model is lacking and how to add it. That's how science works. A great quick example is the abstract from a talk at the American Geophysical Union's Fall Conference this year:  http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/2013AGUFM.U22A..02H . The whole thing is talking about how the models match real data, where they fall short, and possible reasons why. Various papers from the authors of this talk goes into better detail each of the physical reasons. 

You'll also note there are specific observable features from the models that can be tested against and are verified in observational data. Arctic ice coverage, sea salinity, atmospheric gas composition, and the global surface temperature anomaly are just a few examples. The fact is the models are making correct predictions on the general trend and are getting better at the magnitude. Most scientists admit where they fall short and are trying to understand why, but in the mean time while that is going on, we could at least make some decisions based on the consensus trend of the models and observed data which is - the global average temperature is increasing and human activity is playing a part in it.

Sorry for the bit of a rant. I have friends in climate science from my days in grad school, and I don't like seeing their work pissed on by people who won't even take the first step in trying to understand their work, and then misinforming a huge number of people about it (where I believe you fall in george).

And if that was just a troll, magnificent job sir. 10/10, got me hook, line, and sinker.
 
2014-05-05 12:05:16 PM  
What I'm unclear on is still whether or not they would have been getting hammered at the Olympics anyway.  What were their training/qualifying times like (using the old suits, polish, etc.)?  Was there an overall decline in performance?  You'd think this kind of thing would be expected or predicted somehow.
 
2014-05-05 12:06:31 PM  
Semi-related, they were talking about skinsuits during the Tour de Romandie yesterday. The race organizers usually go with the lowest bidder for supplying the leader jerseys and the announcers talked about how this could impact the TT. The leader is obligated to wear the yellow skinsuit vs. his usual team suit. A poorly made suit could cost him time during that stage.

In the end it didn't much matter - Froome killed it yesterday.
 
2014-05-05 12:06:41 PM  
I remember a lot of Farkers were mocking the US skaters for complaining about the new suits. Do they get an apology now?
 
2014-05-05 12:22:54 PM  

SkittlesAreYum: I remember a lot of Farkers were mocking the US skaters for complaining about the new suits. Do they get an apology now?


Sure, and they can pick up their participation medal at IOC offices.
 
2014-05-05 12:23:15 PM  

SkittlesAreYum: I remember a lot of Farkers were mocking the US skaters for complaining about the new suits. Do they get an apology now?


no they still sucked.
 
2014-05-05 12:26:22 PM  
They should compete nude like in the old days.  Various suits/clothing has gradually become as important as genuine athletic ability in many sports.
 
2014-05-05 12:39:36 PM  

mcnguyen: They should compete nude like in the old days.  Various suits/clothing has gradually become as important as genuine athletic ability in many sports.


You just need standard uniforms for all competitors.  Pretty simple solution.
 
2014-05-05 12:45:46 PM  

CrazyWhiteBoy311: Yeah, actually that is an important lesson that all engineers need to eventually learn, and there are a surprising number that don't understand that, but its even more remarkable how many of the general public don't understand that. I currently work in material testing, and every month or so we get some business manager from a company saying they don't need us to run certain tests because their simulations will give them all the data they need, even if their engineers want to get it to verify the simulations. A few months later they come back and order the extra tests because the component they make is not working as the simulation predicted.

Also:
georgep68: Wrong!  If the Global Warming Climate Change debate has taught us anything it's that simulation takes precedence over reality.  :-)

This comment makes it very clear you listen to talking heads rather than actual scientists doing Climate Change research. This is because, like I note above, its the non-scientists that normally don't get the fact that simulation is not directly analogous to the real environment. Those differences are the primary factors that drive simulation development - a scientist uses a model with a data set, makes a prediction, compares again real data, finds the differences, and then attempts to figure out the important physics their model is lacking and how to add it. That's how science works. A great quick example is the abstract from a talk at the American Geophysical Union's Fall Conference this year:  http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/2013AGUFM.U22A..02H . The whole thing is talking about how the models match real data, where they fall short, and possible reasons why. Various papers from the authors of this talk goes into better detail each of the physical reasons. 

You'll also note there are specific observable features from the models that can be tested against and are verified in observational data. Arctic ice coverage, sea salinity, atmospheric gas composition, and the global surface ...


You are added to my list of people who I need to buy Snickers for on a weekly basis.
 
2014-05-05 01:12:02 PM  
Wait, wait, wait.   The skaters spend their whole lives getting ready for this and then are OK with going out in suits they've NEVER worn before?  That seems like either BS or raging stupidity.  The higher up the level of athletics, the more concerned participants are with their gear, it's always that way.  Once you're at the very top, tiny changes have huge impacts.
 
2014-05-05 01:15:36 PM  

goatan: Didn't they still get beat when they changed back to the old suit?


yes, but they needed to put the blame on the suit anyway
 
2014-05-05 01:20:43 PM  
usatftw.files.wordpress.com

/ understands the risks of an over-vented suit
 
2014-05-05 01:31:35 PM  
In theory there's no difference between theory and reality. In reality there is.

/ex-theorist
 
2014-05-05 01:47:24 PM  
Canada's suits were just fine...

i.imgur.com
 
2014-05-05 02:26:25 PM  
i.imgur.com
 
2014-05-05 02:49:26 PM  

Representative of the unwashed masses: SkittlesAreYum: I remember a lot of Farkers were mocking the US skaters for complaining about the new suits. Do they get an apology now?

no they still sucked.


Exactly.

The woeful performance was not down to the suits but to the skaters and coaches alone. It's never easy at the highest level of a sport to admit that you were just not good enough but that was this case.

The USA skaters were just not good enough. End of story. Until they admit that it will be the same in four years time and a new set of excuses.
 
2014-05-05 03:08:53 PM  
CrazyWhiteBoy311:
georgep68: Wrong!  If the Global Warming Climate Change debate has taught us anything it's that simulation takes precedence over reality.  :-)

This comment makes it very clear you listen to talking heads rather than actual scientists doing Climate Change research. This is because, like I note above, its the non-scientists that normally don't get the fact that simulation is not directly analogous to the real environment. Those differences are the primary factors that drive simulation development - a scientist uses a model with a data set, makes a prediction, compares again real data, finds the differences, and then attempts to figure out the important physics their model is lacking and how to add it. That's how science works. A great quick example is the abstract from a talk at the American Geophysical Union's Fall Conference this year:  http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/2013AGUFM.U22A..02H . The whole thing is talking about how the models match real data, where they fall short, and possible reasons why. Various papers from the authors of this talk goes into better detail each of the physical reasons.

You'll also note there are specific observable features from the models that can be tested against and are verified in observational data. Arctic ice coverage, sea salinity, atmospheric gas composition, and the global surface ...


First off, pay close attention and notice the ":-)" in the original post.

I should have known better than to delve into the current Religion of the idle.  I am an environmentalist and by nature a skeptic.  Proof is good.  I am just completely fatigued by the myriad of articles that predict one thing or another based on climate models.  I spend my days at work tuning models to process huge data sets.  It is not climate modelling but I do have insight into how futile it is to try to model something when you don't have all the information necessary or don't fully understand all of the interactions involved.  I believe the current state of climate models are nowhere near where they need to be to generate effective predictions.

I've learned my lesson here.  I will not comment (even in jest) about anything to do with this again.
 
2014-05-05 03:16:25 PM  

georgep68: I've learned my lesson here. I will not comment (even in jest) about anything to do with this again.


Climate change fear mongering has never been about science. It just uses junk science to try and obfuscate what is in reality nothing but a power grab. A way to force people to live a certain way and do certain things because CLIMATE CHANGE. You mess with the zealots and you will get shouted down. I do believe we can do a better job with this planet we have and using education and technologies to try and minimize bad effects of human living is just fine. Al Gore and his ilk aren't into all that. It is all about "we have to DO something"
 
2014-05-05 03:50:07 PM  
Wait!  Did they cross the international date-line on their way there?  Problem solved.  The suits rebooted.
 
2014-05-05 04:10:19 PM  
The whole competition was screwy, there were only a couple of Olympic records set, no world records, which means that everyone was having some issues. Granted one of the Olympic records set was set by a huge margin, and one gets the feeling had it been faster ice it would've blow the world record out of the water. But when a skater who has skated faster than an Olympic record time on numerous occasions can't get within two seconds of the record, there's something up and it's not the skaters.
 
2014-05-05 05:02:00 PM  

Norfolking Chance: Representative of the unwashed masses: SkittlesAreYum: I remember a lot of Farkers were mocking the US skaters for complaining about the new suits. Do they get an apology now?

no they still sucked.

Exactly.

The woeful performance was not down to the suits but to the skaters and coaches alone. It's never easy at the highest level of a sport to admit that you were just not good enough but that was this case.

The USA skaters were just not good enough. End of story. Until they admit that it will be the same in four years time and a new set of excuses.


It sounded to me like what they said (we trained at sea level, management sucked, our suits were not good) were an analysis of why they sucked. For some reason everyone saw it as excuses. It was, but there's always reasons or excuses as to why someone lost. Do you want platitudes like "we weren't hungry enough" or do you want concrete ideas for improvement?

Christ, I'd hate to have you guys as managers: you'd have no interest in dissecting why something didn't go right.
 
2014-05-05 05:11:41 PM  
Every generation of engineers needs to relearn that "simulation ≠ reality".

Some never quite do

newsimg.bbc.co.uk
 
2014-05-05 05:18:05 PM  

Tr0mBoNe: Blame the Dutch.


and the fact they forgot to pass them on he right hand side.
 
2014-05-05 05:28:48 PM  

WhyteRaven74: The whole competition was screwy, there were only a couple of Olympic records set, no world records, which means that everyone was having some issues. Granted one of the Olympic records set was set by a huge margin, and one gets the feeling had it been faster ice it would've blow the world record out of the water. But when a skater who has skated faster than an Olympic record time on numerous occasions can't get within two seconds of the record, there's something up and it's not the skaters.


So it was slow ice. Everybody skates on the same ice.

It isn't about your time relative to previous events elsewhere it is about your time relative to the others on the same ice at (approximately) the same time.
 
2014-05-05 05:53:22 PM  

dywed88: WhyteRaven74: The whole competition was screwy, there were only a couple of Olympic records set, no world records, which means that everyone was having some issues. Granted one of the Olympic records set was set by a huge margin, and one gets the feeling had it been faster ice it would've blow the world record out of the water. But when a skater who has skated faster than an Olympic record time on numerous occasions can't get within two seconds of the record, there's something up and it's not the skaters.

So it was slow ice. Everybody skates on the same ice.

It isn't about your time relative to previous events elsewhere it is about your time relative to the others on the same ice at (approximately) the same time.



Unquestionably true.  I think that this was one of the things underlying the point that was made in TFA about the decision to train at altitude.  In an effort to obtain the presumed endurance benefits from training at altitude, they trained on ice that was very different to the slow ice they found at sea level.  I read an article a while ago that when they train on "fast" ice at altitude, the skaters skate differently.  They glide more.  Then, when they were on slow ice, a different skating style is needed and gliding slows you down.

The link to the article I read seems to be dead, but here is a bit from it that I found that quotes Dan Jansen:

The national team is based in Salt Lake City and trains at altitude almost exclusively. Jansen and others wonder why the team didn't spend more time in Milwaukee, considering the Olympics are being held at sea level. The Pettit National Ice Center bid for the U.S. Olympic trials, but they were awarded to the Utah Olympic Oval, which also hosted a fall World Cup.

So there was very little training and no competitions at the Pettit - which more closely simulates the ice conditions in Sochi - in the months leading up to the Olympics.

Asked if he thought the team should have spent more time in Milwaukee, Jansen said, "I absolutely think so."

Why would that make a difference?

The Olympic Oval ice is considered the cleanest and fastest in the world and skaters who train there become accustomed to getting a lot of glide out of each push. Slower "working ice" in Milwaukee - and Sochi - requires a different technique, tempo and effort.

"If you always skate on perfect ice without resistance, you skate a certain way," Jansen said. "You'll be a lot longer (with each stride). You'll use the ice. The ice can carry you and this ice will not carry you. So you've got to adjust for that.

"If they trained in Milwaukee they would get used to that condition and how to skate on ice that doesn't carry you through the race."

Jansen pointed to Shani Davis' race in the 1,000 meters as an example. Davis finished eighth and afterward was dumbfounded by his slow lap time.

"Shani floated into his turn. Twice," Jansen said. "But again, I know why. His best part is the turn and he was setting up a perfect turn and he skated a good turn. But on this ice you can't float. You've got to keep the tempo up because you're not going to glide like you will in Salt Lake City."

The Dutch train at sea level their entire lives.



Jansen is a Milwaukee native, so perhaps he has ulterior motives.  But he's also very well respected in speed skating circles.
 
2014-05-05 07:28:06 PM  

Norfolking Chance: The USA skaters were just not good enough.


Statistics say otherwise:

Compare the most recent World Cup results before the Olympics:

In the men's 1000 metres, Shani Davis placed 2nd for the season, with many podium finishes
Shani Davis and Brian Hanson were top 5 in the 1500m
Heather Richardson was top 5 in the season with many podium finishes in the 500m
Heather Richardson and Brittney Bowe crushed the 1000m, coming 1st and 2nd

All told, they should have done well in the Olympics -- there's at least three or four medals there. And it's not like they were unlucky and just missed the podium. They missed their PBs by several seconds in some cases. Some of them barely finished in the top 10. That's an insane drop off.

So what happened? I can't believe for a second that their performance declined so dramatically in just one season. Maybe it's training, maybe coaching, maybe diet, maybe the suits. But it has to be something that affected them only in the Olympics and never anywhere else.
 
2014-05-05 07:37:05 PM  

Ishkur: Norfolking Chance: The USA skaters were just not good enough.

Statistics say otherwise:

Compare the most recent World Cup results before the Olympics:

In the men's 1000 metres, Shani Davis placed 2nd for the season, with many podium finishes
Shani Davis and Brian Hanson were top 5 in the 1500m
Heather Richardson was top 5 in the season with many podium finishes in the 500m
Heather Richardson and Brittney Bowe crushed the 1000m, coming 1st and 2nd

All told, they should have done well in the Olympics -- there's at least three or four medals there. And it's not like they were unlucky and just missed the podium. They missed their PBs by several seconds in some cases. Some of them barely finished in the top 10. That's an insane drop off.

So what happened? I can't believe for a second that their performance declined so dramatically in just one season. Maybe it's training, maybe coaching, maybe diet, maybe the suits. But it has to be something that affected them only in the Olympics and never anywhere else.


I'm going with they weren't fast enough for $1,000 Alex.
 
2014-05-05 09:23:04 PM  

squidloe: SkittlesAreYum: I remember a lot of Farkers were mocking the US skaters for complaining about the new suits. Do they get an apology now?

Sure, and they can pick up their participation medal at IOC offices.


Well, some of them actually do get Olympic diplomas for finishing in the top eight.

If you've never heard of Olympic diplomas, don't worry. Most of the athletes have never heard of them either. They get it with the rest of their paperwork after the Games end and they're literally like 'what the fark is this thing?'
 
2014-05-05 09:31:11 PM  

Incontinent_dog_and_monkey_rodeo: Wait, wait, wait.   The skaters spend their whole lives getting ready for this and then are OK with going out in suits they've NEVER worn before?  That seems like either BS or raging stupidity.  The higher up the level of athletics, the more concerned participants are with their gear, it's always that way.  Once you're at the very top, tiny changes have huge impacts.


$$$$  Under Armour was paying $$$ to be a sponsor and of course wanted to push their products so they could charge us more when they put that technology into, ummmmm, something mass market.  Not quite sure what, but I'll bet they had some sort of plan for it.

But yeah, you tinker with things in the off season, or during the training period to the main event, NOT right before the event.  I've never been anywhere close to their level of performance, but I would never tinker with my pre-event routine/equipment.
 
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