The McBournie Minute: Searching for France, finding Newfoundland

There is something that exists in the hearts of all men that dares us to try to do something new. This feeling is why we built the pyramids, why we “discovered” new continents, why we went to the moon. Common knowledge said that it couldn’t be done, and someone finally got the courage to prove common knowledge wrong.

It may end up being the thing that saves or kills mankind, but either way, it will define us. Our thirst for knowledge and new discoveries will continue to drive us as a species. That is why it’s unfortunate that we tend to misuse that feeling. When someone tells us, “You’re a damn fool to try that,” we think we’re just smart enough to try it.

At some point, someone told Jonathan Trappe of North Carolina that he couldn’t travel by balloon solo across the Atlantic Ocean. Continue reading The McBournie Minute: Searching for France, finding Newfoundland

Mutant power: attempting to kill himself

It’s been said in the past that Julius Caesar, Hannibal and Machiavelli have been known as just a few of the most ambitious people ever in history. But let’s be honest-they’ve got nothing on Felix Baumgartner. Why so? Because the dude wants to fly. Or die. Y’know, whichever rhyming word might seem more appropriate.

Baumgartner aims to jump out of a hot air balloon 36,575 meters in the air and free fall before opening his parachute around 1520 meters, in the process shattering a free fall record set in 1960 by US Air Force Captain Joe Kittinger who jumped out of a balloon 31,333 meters high. As you could imagine, such a jump will be dangerous; in addition to achieving supersonic speed 35 seconds after he jumps, Baumgartner will also be jumping from a point that’s dangerous just to be there:

The jump height is above a threshold at 19,000 meters called the Armstrong line, where the atmospheric pressure is so low that fluids start to boil. “If he opens up his face mask or the suit, all the gases in your body go out of suspension, so you literally turn into a giant fizzy, oozing fluid from your eyes and mouth, like something out of a horror film,” [Project director Art] Thompson explained. “It’s just seconds until death.”

Don’t worry though, as he won’t be completely left in the lurch without any help: Red Bull is sponsoring his attempted suicide. Hey, Red Bull, you might not want to run your commercials in the meantime. Just in case.