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An Incredible Free-fall

October 14, 2012

The future is here and it is amazing.

Most of my family gathered around the crappy, CRT television in the living room this afternoon. (Because, while my PC monitor and speakers are far better, this is my room/office and we are not crowding into it. My personal bubble; it starts at the door, people.)

We watched Felix Baumgartner, extreme athlete and extraordinarily brave man, hitch a ride up to the edge of space in a big-ass balloon and then jump, free-falling for minutes that seemed like days to breathless viewers before pulling his chute and making the landing look as easy as walking across a parking lot.

I stood there, watching the little white blur hurtle toward the ground, and marveled at how the private sector can accomplish really cool shit. Red Bull sponsored this event—and thanks to technology, lots and lots of us, strangers spread out all over the planet, watched at the same time.

This wasn’t just about doing something really cool on nearly-live TV (there was a 20-second delay in effect, just in case); it was also about data. God created a universe that mostly makes sense to those with the tools and skills to observe and measure, experiment and analyze. Felix and his team collected, one hopes, lots of good information. The idea is that others can make better spacesuits, exit procedures, and other, good things.


From → History, News, Science

  1. Tom permalink

    You know what’s a great example of private enterprise? The AR 15 platform. Stoner was working for Armalite when he came up with the design, and Armalite sold the license to Colt who’s been making ARs ever since. And because of the design standards of the AR, all sorts of private companies are pushing out products — some good, some not so good — to try to make the platform better. I don’t normally try to tie guns into every aspect of our culture, but I was putting an AR lower together last night with products NOT manufactured by Colt or the US government and your comment about the private sector reminded me of that.

    • Oh, hey, that’s a good point. The AR-15 is a great example of private-sector innovation. My dad has one. He can choose from a crapload of parts and accessories if he wants to further customize the basic rifle. Which he does, to an extent. But if he doesn’t want the extras, he doesn’t have to get them. Pretty neat.

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