Balls Out at the Speed of Sound

CREDIT: Jay Nemeth/Red Bull Content Pool

There are a lot of “stunts” I don’t care much for. David Blaine standing for 72 hours in a chamber with Tesla-coil lightning … well, he might as well have stood there for 72 hours with a coin taped to his forehead.

When I was about 5 years old I decided I would stay up all night by myself, just to see what it was like. The answer is: Boring.

Ditto for David Blaine. Yes, it’s sort of impressive that someone can stand on their feet for 72 hours without a bathroom break. But it’s the standing there that’s the real deal. The rest is just bells and whistles, which makes it a silly accomplishment, and not worth watching.

But this one I actually like. Tomorrow, Tuesday,

Skydiver Attempts 23-Mile Supersonic Freefall: How to Watch Live

It’s got some meat to it. A something that nobody else has done that even qualifies as a sort of scientific experiment.

There was a slightly-comical typo in the third paragraph of the story when I read it:  “… the skydiver will begin a freefall that will send dim (sic) driving toward the ground faster than the speed of sound.” (If you scamper over there you might still see it.)

See the Explanatory  Infographic here.

Austrian daredevil Felix Baumgartner, I wish you the best.

Side musing: Doesn’t it seem odd that there’s a town you can drive to, 20 minutes from your house, and nothing much is different there, but if you take that same trip straight up, the breathable atmosphere plays out in less than 2 minutes and you’d need oxygen supplies to continue on, a pressurized cabin to complete the trip? Damn, our atmosphere is a scarily thin thing.

Baumgartner will be in the pressurized equivalent of a full space suit by the time he reaches his chosen altitude. He will see the curvature of the earth below him. And he will jump out.

Falling faster than sound? Wow. Now THAT is a stunt.

Just FYI, according to Wikipedia:

In dry air at 20 °C (68 °F), the speed of sound is 343.2 metres per second (1,126 ft/s). This is 1,236 kilometres per hour (768 mph).

Baumgartner will exceed Mach One within 40 seconds. He will be traveling “faster than a speeding bullet,” outracing the sound of his own passage through the thin air, and will be the only human alive to create a sonic shockwave (a bit of a colorful assumption on my part, but until someone tells me different, fuck it, I’m goin’ with it), slight though it might be in the thin atmosphere, with his own body.

You can sign up to watch via the Red Bull Stratos Mission Facebook page. You should probably sit down with a big bowl of popcorn. And some Red Bull.

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