Modern knights go on treadmill to measure effect of armor on energy expenditure

August 1, 2011
Gorgeous Nature
Can’t get away this summer? Click here
A Wild Year — Banff National Park (Parks Canada)

For Washingtonians who are stuck in the city all summer, a five-minute video by Parks Canada could provide the perfect nature break — or just more torment. The video is a one-year time lapse of one spot in Banff National Park, located in Alberta’s Rocky Mountains. It was made with one of the park’s 30 motion-activated cameras mounted along hiking and game trails. Available on YouTube, “A Wild Year” shows mountain goats, moose, deer, menacing-looking felines at night with glowing eyes, birds picking at a carcass until a black bear drags it away, and curious hikers tinkering with the camera. Snazzy editing and moody music by New York electronic artist Do Kashiteru heighten the already stunning footage. 

Rachel Saslow

body mechanics
How tough it really was in days of old
Popular Mechanics blog

Note to aspiring knights in shining armor: Make sure to tuck a few Clif bars into your cuirass. According to a recent study by Graham Askew, a University of Leeds-based physiologist, medieval warriors expended a lot of energy trucking across the battlefield in their plated mail. Obviously. But Askew thought it would be “interesting to get figures,” he told Popular Mechanics. He recruited a group of historical interpreters — guys accustomed to charging around in iron pants — and placed them on treadmills, using a respirometer to measure how much air they were sucking in and, therefore, how much energy they were expending. Turns out, it’s nearly twice as much as when wearing their casual duds. And interestingly, they used more energy than they did when carrying a suit-of-armor’s worth of weight in a backpack. “A suit of medieval armor loads the lower limbs,” Askew writes. “You have 7 or 8 kilos [15 to 18 pounds] of armor on the legs, so when you swing your legs, your muscles are having to do much more work.” The original study was published July 20 in Britain’s Proceedings of the Royal Society; it’s easier to read the description on the technology blog at www.popularmechanics.
com
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business man wearing historic armor (Freudenthal Verhagen/GETTY IMAGES)

Aaron Leitko

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