Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Videos That Awed Me, Amazed Me, Inspired Me

Birdmen: The Original Dream of Human Flight (2012): Guys (and gals) wearing "wingsuits" which allow them do controlled gliding while jumping off thousand foot (and higher) cliffs.  They can travel several miles before opening their parachutes.  The videos from their helmet cameras are amazing.  These are serious adrenalin junkies, especially the ones doing "proximity" flying, where the goal is to get dozens of feet off the ground while flying 100 miles per hour, and passing between trees or radio antennas where there is a 20 foot gap.  Yes, this is intentional -- they aim for these.  And yes, they acknowledge that this is really dangerous, and they have lost friends doing this.  

A 2012 Nova episode: Cracking Your Genetic Code which explores the ways in which the Human Genome Project's output is helping scientists develop cures for what used to be death sentence diseases.  They give as an example a particular mutation of melanoma which is attacked by a particular chemical.  They interview a 50 year old who had a month left to live, because it had metastasized into his neck and abdomen.  They started him on this chemical -- and in a week, he could feel the tumors shrinking.  Two months after he started the chemical, he was back at work.  And many other amazing things that are now under development and beginning to pay off.

As I told someone today at work: I'm sure that 90% of the medical research that the federal government funds is a complete waste of time.  Stuff like this makes me say, "Who cares?  It's only money.  It is a vastly better investment than anything that is fundamentally a subsidy to a company that can't figure out how to produce solar panels."


  1. http://xkcd.com/962/ (The Corliss Resolution)

    Make sure you hover your cursor over the picture to see the popup commentary -- it's at least as funny as the comic since it's so true.

  2. Well, the videos that the wing-suited folk produce are exciting to watch. Every now and then, though, one of them crashes into a rock cliff at 100+ mph -- the results are entirely predictable. But, it was, I'm sure, a serious adrenaline rush while it lasted.