Were you one of the millions of people across the globe who tuned in to watch the live YouTube stream of daredevil Felix Baumgartner's historic leap from the edge of space? If so, you also helped break a record.
"We congratulate Felix Baumgartner and the entire Red Bull Stratos team
for their successful mission, and for creating a live stream with the
most concurrent views ever on YouTube," the blog post stated.
According to All Thing D, the previous record for a YouTube livestream was set during the London Olympics when 500,000 people tuned in. Baumgartner shattered that record before he even stepped out his launch pod, as 7.1 million people tuned in as he made his ascent.
But something tells me the YouTube record will remain a bit overshadowed. In case you need a refresher, here are the other records Baumgartner broke: highest jump from a platform (128,100 feet), longest freefall distance (119,846 feet) and maximum vertical velocity (833.9 mph or Mach 1.24).
That last record makes Baumgartner the first human to break the sound barrier outside of an aircraft. If you missed the live stream of the supersonic freefall or just want to relive the glory, check out the video below.
To show off a prototype version of its "Project Glass" augmented-reality eyewear announced last winter, Google required an airship, four wingsuits and parachutes, sign-offs from local and federal government agencie, favorable winds and -- not least -- reliable mobile broadband.
Brin, wearing his own set of Glasses, said he wanted to show off the eyewear's capabilities but warned that "this could go wrong in about 500 different ways." The video cut to show a zeppelin in the sky. On it, Brin explained, was a friend wearing the same gadget, which functions as a sort of heads-up display by presenting info in a tiny screen positioned above your right eye and can capture and stream photos and videos.
A "no, they wouldn't... yes, they are" moment followed as the screen on the stage switched to a feed from the Google+ "hangout" video chat of not one but four skydivers, and then showed their view as they jumped out over the city.
Moments later, all landed on the roof of Moscone West, where a cyclist grabbed a package they'd carried, rode down to an edge of the building, and handed it to a climber who rappelled down the side to hand it to yet another biker who sprinted through cheering crowds, into the auditorium, and onto the stage.
A Google rep said the whole idea surfaced in a meeting some six weeks ago. It then required the cooperation of two district offices and the Washington headquarters of the Federal Aviation Administration; the mayor, fire department and police department of San Francisco; and NASA's Ames Research Center in nearby Mountain View.
(Disclosure: I've spoken at a couple of Google events, one paid for by the company.)
Google thinks the demo was the first legal wingsuit skydive in the United States from a rigid-structure airship (that framework distinguishes a zeppelin from a mere blimp). Ian Gregor, a spokesman with the FAA, didn't know if that was the case but said Google complied with the relevant regulations and an authorization specific to the event. He added: "Two FAA safety inspectors observed the jump, and it went off perfectly."
So about the glasses themselves... we'll see. After the demo, Brin announced that a $1,500 "Explorer Edition" would be available for pre-order by U.S.-based I/O attendees for delivery next year.
Glass-wearing representatives staffed a row of desks to take orders but were under orders not to let anybody touch the merchandise. I could look close enough to see the tiny screen hidden inside a clear plastic pod, but I can't tell you if they are, as Google touts, lighter on the nose than many sunglasses.
It's also unknow how sturdy they will be. Google reps suggested they would allow distraction-free close-up photos of babies, but in my experience babies love pulling eyeglasses off of nearby faces. And battery life apparently needs work too; at a reception Wednesday evening, Gundotra said his prototype glasses don't last as long on a charge as his phone.
But they are a conversation starter, especially when worn while jumping out of a perfectly good airship. A one-minute highlight video is below. If you want the 11-minute version, click here.
Credits: Top photo via Google PR, bottom Rob Pegoraro/Discovery
Surely the folks at the Pima Air and Space Museum in Arizona must have asked that question early on when they decided to build a paper airplane with a 45-foot wingspan. The plane was inspired by a smaller craft built earlier in the year by 12-year-old Tucson resident Arturo Valdenegro for an event at the museum.
The answer to the question above is, a helicopter. It towed the paper airplane to an altitude of 2,703 feet and let it go. The plane soared at a speed of 98 miles per hour. What an amazing site that must of been. Onboard cameras captured some of the wonder. Watch below. via MSNBC
In the last couple of weeks, New Yorkers may have noticed people flying over and around the Brooklyn Bridge. It turns out it was a publicity stunt designed by Thinkmodo for the the movie "Chronicle," which is due to release Feb. 3. In the movie, three teens get superpowers. But how did the folks at Thinkmodo, who put the stunt together, get those people-crafts to look the way they did?
Discovery News spoke with Gary Graf, of East Setauket, Long Island, who was the brains behind the design. He's been a flyer of radio controlled airplanes and helicopters for three decades. He even invented the helicopter-like contraption visible in the video, which carried cameras up to do aerial shots.
The trick was to use something that could hover, but at the same time didn't look like a plane. "We were looking for the silhouette," Graf told Discovery News. "We needed a platform of similar size to a human."
A helicopter wouldn't work as they can't swoop or dive, aside from looking wrong, and a straight-up airplane wasn't satisfactory either. They eventually found another hobbyist "who had a bunch of old designs in his basement" for oddly shaped airframes. It wasn't quite what they wanted, but it was closer. Finally, the group decided on using a combination of foam, carbon fiber tubing and a design similar to a box kite. The carbon fiver gives stiffness to the foam surfaces. It was light, about 3.3 pounds and delicate. "We called it a flying potato chip," Graf said.
The turboprop creates an airflow that runs through the center of the flyer's body; the legs (about where the calves are) and the hands act like flaps in a normal airplane. The thrust is from the center to the rear. A lot of the weight is in the battery, which is mounted forward, putting the center of gravity closer to the front. That allows the flyers to "flip."
The team with the cameras used creative angles to give the illusion that the fliers were closer to the Manhattan Bridge than they really were. "Some of those trucks you see in the background are 40 feet long," Graf said. To make sure the flyers were operated safely, they didn't go more than about 150 feet up, and were never more than about 600 feet from the controllers (they also had spotters to help make sure the aircrafts didn't collide with each other). And of course, "We had to keep them out of national airspace."
There's nothing like folding paper airplanes to unleash a person's creativity and flex some engineering muscle, but the sorry truth is that not all such creations fly well. For all those frustrated by the harsh realities, relief is in sight at last in the form of ThinkGeek's new Electric Paper Airplane Conversion Kit.
Simply clip the device's “propeller-stalk thing,” as ThinkGeek calls it, onto the front of any paper airplane. The prop itself will stick out the back. From there, it's simply a matter of holding the battery pack up to the front for about 20 seconds, allowing the propeller motor to wind up. And voila! The device is charged and ready for about 90 seconds of propeller-driven flight. The creator of the initially ill-favored aircraft, meanwhile, will be transformed, as ThinkGeek says, into “the ruler of the air.”
Unlike the famous Bell Rocket Belt and the fan-powered Martin Jetpack, the JetLev R200 uses water propulsion to achieve liftoff, enabling double-agents or thrill seekers alike to skim along the water at 22 miles an hour and soar to heights of nearly 30 feet.
Designers at JetLev Technologies have manged to minimize the weight and bulk of the jetpack by shifting the propulsion engine, fuel and related systems to a small, independent 10-foot boat that is tethered to the jet pack by a 33-foot hose. Thrust is generated by forcing water through the hose to nozzles on either side of the jet pack.
This design greatly reduces the thrust-to-weight ratio of the jetpack, which itself weighs around 30 pounds. Compared to Martin's 250-lb jetpack, the light weight JetLev R200 is capable of generating 500 pounds of thrust from its four stroke 250-horse-power engine. However, maximum thrust has been capped at 430 pounds.
Thrust is controlled by twisting hand grips, while moving the control arms up and down changes the angle of propulsion nozzles. This allows pilots to move forward, in reverse and hover in neutral. By shifting their weight from side-to-side, pilots are able to turn.
Designed for both fresh and salt water, the jetpack is constructed of stainless steel and hard coat anodized aluminum with Teflon coating to protect against corrosion.
The JetLev R200 can accommodate pilots of all shapes and sizes, from 88 to 330 pounds. and 4.9- to 6.5-feet tall.
Besides the obvious safety feature of the device only being used over water, the jetpack's other safety features include a 5-point quick-release harness, protective backrest and head support and inherent flotation device.
Intended it as a recreational device for holiday resorts, JetLev Technologies is planning to produce 70 units for delivery to target markets between May and July 2011.
If renting one at Club Med cramps your sense of daredevil espionage and foreign intrigue, tycoons anywhere can pick up the 2011 R200 model for a mere $99,500.
Austrian skydiver Felix Baumgartner wants to attempt a record-breaking free fall from 120,000 feet above the Earth. It's not the kind of jump a person can do with a conventional sky-diving suit and helmet. After all, Baumgartner will break the speed of sound during his fall. He will need life-support.
To that end, the space equipment manufacturer David Clark Company developed a special pressurized suit and helmet for Baumgartner that provides an artificial atmosphere as well as providing insulation against fire and extreme cold.. There's a nice article in the Engineer here.
The suit will protect Baumgartner from:
temperatures as cold as -68.8 degrees Fahrenheit
Baumgartner will reach the high altitude by way of a capsule suspended from a helium-filled balloon.
The video below gives a great explanation and also shows an animation of the capsule and balloon reaching the stratosphere.