Felix Baumgartner stood alone at the edge of space, poised in the open doorway of a capsule suspended above Earth and wondering if he would make it back alive.
Thirty-nine kilometres below him, millions of people were right there with him, watching on the Internet and marvelling at the wonder of the moment.
A second later, he stepped off the capsule and barrelled toward the New Mexico desert as a tiny white speck against a darkly-tinted sky. Millions watched breathlessly as he shattered the sound barrier and then landed safely about nine minutes later, becoming the world’s first supersonic skydiver.
“It was harder than I expected,” said Mr. Baumgartner, a 43-year-old former Austrian paratrooper.
“Trust me, when you stand up there on top of the world, you become so humble. It’s not about breaking records any more. It’s not about getting scientific data. It’s all about coming home.”
The tightly-orchestrated jump meant primarily to entertain became much more than that in the dizzying, breathtaking moment — a collectively shared cross between Neil Armstrong’s moon landing and Evel Knievel’s famed motorcycle jumps.
It was part scientific wonder, part daredevil reality show, with the live-streamed event instantly capturing the world’s attention. It proved, once again, the power of the Internet in a world where news travels as fast as Twitter.
The event happened without a network broadcast in the United States, though organizers said more than 40 television stations in 50 countries — including cable’s Discovery Channel in the U.S. — carried the live feed. Instead, millions flocked online, drawing more than 8 million simultaneous views to a YouTube live stream at its peak, YouTube officials said.
More than 130 digital outlets carried the live feed, organizers said.
It was a last hurrah for what some have billed as a dying Space Age, as NASA’s shuttle program ends and the ways humans explore space are dramatically changing. As the jump unfolded, the space shuttle Endeavor crept toward a Los Angeles museum, where it will become nothing more than an exhibit.
Baumgartner hit Mach 1.24, or 1,342 km/h, according to preliminary data, and became the first person to reach supersonic speed without travelling in a jet or a spacecraft. The capsule he jumped from had reached an altitude of 39,000 metres above Earth, carried by a 55-storey ultra-thin helium balloon.
"A world of pure imagination": How Occupy turned to anarchy 2014 04 17
In the closing ceremonies of London’s 2012 Summer Olympics, comedian Russell Brand, perched atop the Beatles’ "Magical Mystery Tour" bus, opened his performance by singing the first lines of "Pure Imagination" from the movie Willy Wonka:
Come with me
And you’ll be
In a world of
Artists ’have structurally different brains’ 2014 04 17
Artists have structurally different brains compared with non-artists, a study has found.
Participants’ brain scans revealed that artists had increased neural matter in areas relating to fine motor movements and visual imagery.
The research, published in NeuroImage, suggests that an artist’s talent could be innate.
But training and environmental upbringing also play crucial roles in their ability, the authors report.
As in many areas ...
NSA-proof email service goes online 2014 04 17 A new email service that protects its users from the prying eyes of the NSA and other spy agencies has gone online. The service’s creators say it will make encrypted messaging accessible to all and curtail internet snooping.
Germany-based Lavaboom was inspired by Lavabit, the encrypted email service that was believed to have been used by whistleblower Edward Snowden before it ...
Investigative Journalist Michael C. Ruppert Dead After Lifelong Struggle With Mental Illness 2014 04 17 We’re sad to hear the news about the death of Michael Ruppert.
Rest in Peace.
From Collapse Network, which is being constantly updated with new information:
There is absolutely no doubt or question about it, Mike Ruppert took his own life.
Rest in Peace, my brother.
Wesley T. Miller
President & CEO
Collapse Network, Inc.
I have been informed that MCR has committed suicide. I ...
Cyclopean Masonry: A Mystery of the Ancient World 2014 04 16 They don’t make things like they used to, and that is, in some cases, a monumental understatement.
Silly wordplay notwithstanding, there is something to be said for the construction techniques of the old world. Where modern buildings are designed to withstand the elements; wind, temperature extremes, earthquakes and floods, today’s engineers have to strike a balance between economics ...