ISB Now

Did You Know? – From the Archives

Posted on June 26, 2013

The International Society of Biomechanics was officially formed at the 4th International Seminar on Biomechanics, which was held at Penn State University in 1973.  The constitution was voted on and approved on August 29th.  Two hundred and fifty of those present became charter members of the society.  One of those members is Vladimir Zatsiorsky, who at that conference presented work examining methodological approaches for sports biomechanics.

Vladimir was born in the Soviet Union.  He obtained his Ph.D. in Biomechanics from the Central Institute of Physical Culture (Moscow) in 1968.  He worked at the institute from 1960 onwards, becoming a Professor and Chair of the Department of Biomechanics at the Central Institute in 1974, holding that position until 1987.  In 1987 he became the Director of the All-Union Research Institute of Physical Culture.  In 1990 he moved to North America, where he had stints at UCLA, and the University of Calgary before settling at Penn State University.  He has published over 400 papers, and authored or coauthored 15 books many of which have been translated into multiple languages.

Vladimir has made some important contributions to biomechanics, but from the ISB’s perspective one stands out.  The VIII Congress was held in Nagoya, Japanand at this meeting Vladimirpresented work based on determining body segment inertial parameters using gamma mass scanning.  The proceedings from that conference were published as a book, with one chapter describing his work (Zatsiorsky, V., & Seluyanov, V. (1983)  The mass and inertia characteristics of the main segments of the human body.  In:  Biomechanics VIII-B, 1983 -Champaign,IL: Human Kinetics).  What is noteworthy about this chapter is that despite not being published in a journal it has been cited nearly 500 times (to date).  There are various criteria for citation classics, for example, Classic - cited at least 75 times, Mega Classic - cited at least 150 times, and a Summa Classic - cited at least 300 times.  Whatever criterion is used the chapter byVladimir and colleague has clearly had a large impact.

Vladimirrelates some interesting background to this work.  There existed in the Soviet Uniona government agency for the Protection of Secrets in Media, without permission from this agency publication in a foreign journal was not permitted.  A large number of bureaucratic ladders had to be scaled before permission could be obtained for submission.  A manuscript was prepared describing the work on the determination of human body segment inertial parameters from gamma mass scanning, and all of the appropriate signatures obtained which culminated in meeting with a vice minister – the final approval stage.  The key question was “Is this an important study?”, upon the response that yes it was a good study the vice minister response was “If it is such a good study then we must keep it secret.”.  Vladimir modified his response, describing the study as “not bad but not good”, and got permission to submit the manuscript.  Unfortunately when the reviewer’s comments were received the process had to be repeated prior to resubmission, with many other work demands the decision was made to settle for dissemination of this work predominantly via conferences to avoid having to negotiate the bureaucratic hurdles one more time.

[The ISB has an archive of its important materials, kept at Penn. State University.  If you have any materials you think should be in the archive, and you would consider donating them to the archive please contact John Challis (jhc10@psu.edu).]

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