It is good to know, that the polar bear would not catch Usain Bolt within 100 meters on a track inside a stadium. Personally, I do not feel more comfortable knowing that. I have and will continue to avoid close encounters with polar bears whenever I am in Svalbard or Northern Canada.
The thing is, too, that the above numbers are not really what I thought about in the first place. You see, the truth is, whenever you are not in Svalbard or Northern Canada you are rather faster than the polar bear.
If you are standing at the equator you will, in fact, move at a mind-boggling 1670 km/h. Don’t believe me? Sorry, that is relativity for you. Click through to what must be NASA’s weirdest webpage here. On that site you get a simple mathematical relation to calculate how fast you are spinning around the Earth’s axis, too – if you can decipher the letters in the midst of that psychedelic background.
In the middle of Germany at 50 degrees northern latitude you move at 1073 km/h, which is not that far removed from the speed of sound. That polar bear at Svalbard will slug around at 347 km/h.
Truth be told, you should forget Usain Bolt, anyway. Just stay where you are and that polar bear will keep moving slower than you. It is safest this way.
Alexander is a physicist, teacher and science communicator who is currently working at the Norwegian Centre for Space-related Education at Andøya Space Center in Norway. Even though, in his case, work and play do overlap, the content on this webpage is entirely private. You can follow Alexander on Twitter, Facebook and Google +