The Plus Olympic calendar: Thursday 2nd August

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Yesterday rowers Helen Glover and Heather Stanning won Great Britain's first gold medal. And the men's eight claimed a bronze with world champions Germany taking gold. Could the men's team have done better if they'd arranged their oars differently? Usually you expect to find rowers positioned in a symmetrical fashion, alternately right-left, right-left as you go from one end of the boat to the other. However, the regularity of the rower's positions hides a significant asymmetry that affects the way the boat will move through the water. Find out more in Rowing has its moments.

And if you prefer watching to reading, our sister site Maths and sport: Countdown to the Games features a video of a lecture given by John D. Barrow, which explores how to rig a rowing eight, whether a cox helps or hinders a racing boat, how the speed of a kayak or a canoe depends on the number of paddlers and what happens if you fall in.

  • Want facts and want them fast? Our Maths in a minute series explores key mathematical concepts in just a few words.