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The Great (Protected) Fall of China

And you thought only Superman could see through things?

Vertigo sufferers may not need apply for directions to the longest and highest glass bridge in the world. Eye-popping views are not uncommon with bridges of all shapes and sizes, but China has clearly raised the thrill-factor to a new level. And, impressively, this ground-breaking sight was constructed for the everyday visitor. That means experience climbing Mt. Everest is not a prerequisite, which was a courteous touch on the part of Haim Dotan. The Israeli architect has certainly made his impression in far away China.

The six-meter wide bridge stretches 430 meters over a 300-meter-deep valley between two cliffs in the beautiful Zhangjiajie Park, said to have inspired the scenery for the sci-fi movie “Avatar.”
–CNN

CNN also reported that a bungee jump will be set-up at the bridge. YouTube videos will follow shortly…

Mr. Dotan’s imaginative creation will also be conducive to the artistic, fashion-forward and, quite frankly, the brave: Fashion runway shows.

Safety inspections may be slightly more frequent than other, more pedestrian bridges. However, seeing and speaking with safety professionals and engineers might be nice, even if to just put visitors at ease.

That would be the transparent approach.

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Red Bull isn’t just for Late Night Studying

“like swimming without touching the water”

October 14, 2012 should be remembered as the day that redefined the 21st century skydiver: A brave soul who dares to defy perceived impossibilities and preconceived limitations. On this day, Felix Baumgartner leaped into that role.

PHOTO: This image provided by Red Bull Stratos shows pilot Felix Baumgartner of Austria as he jumps out of the capsule during the final manned flight for Red Bull Stratos, Oct. 14, 2012.This image provided by Red Bull Stratos shows pilot Felix Baumgartner of Austria as he jumps out of the capsule during the final manned flight for Red Bull Stratos, Oct. 14, 2012. (AP Photo)

The above picture will become iconic for those who dare to dream big and break down barriers of epic proportions. While it was a jump and not an exercise of floating around space with a personal dock, it was still record-breaking and incredible to witness.

It was 43 years ago when the United States won the Space Race when Apollo 11 touched down on the surface of the moon. Neil Armstrong of course cemented this monumental achievement with the ever-famous words, “…one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”

The people of the United States and its government were winners. It was one of those rare moments when the entire country celebrated this successful partnership. We truly were the United States of America.

From 1969 through 2012, a seismic shift in the approach of exploring new horizons has been occurring and in recent years has begun to bear its fruit and is in the midst of a bloom. As a consequence of fiscal uncertainty and debt by the U.S. government coupled with unprecedented wealth and therefore nearly unlimited resources of big thinking millionaires, the art of making historic advancements and discoveries is now in the hands of ambitious and borderline ‘crazy’ individuals.

Richard Branson, Amelia Earhart and Steve Jobs immediately come to mind of Americans who have challenged the status quo and have made the world better as a result with their inspiring actions and visions. For example, Branson has been actively pursuing and preparing commercial space flight in the next few years or so. A seat can be reserved for those willing to pay a hefty down payment.

“…Virgin Galactic Founder Sir Richard Branson revealed that the company has now accepted deposits for suborbital flights on SpaceShipTwo from 529 future astronauts, a number greater than the total count of people who have been to space throughout human history” (Virgin Galactic Reveals Privately Funded Satellite Launcher and Confirms SpaceShipTwo Poised for Powered Flight, Virgin Galactic Online News).

Wow.

One of the most famous explorers in history started his journey with the help of a few powerful allies, some of which were in the upper levels of government:

Christopher Columbus: “Columbus made his transatlantic voyages under the sponsorship of Ferdinand II and Isabella I, the Catholic Monarchs of Aragon, Castile, and Leon in Spain” (Britannica Online).

The commitment to explore new horizons has proven to be a timeless truth for the human race.

“Sky adventurer Felix Baumgartner completed a 24-mile skydive Sunday, wrapping up a five-year effort to shatter a world record set 52 years ago” (USA Today).

“Baumgartner, whose Sunday freefall was watched around the world, was at one point traveling at 833 mph or Mach 1.24, and he shattered the speed of sound during his 4 minute 20 second freefall. He is the only human to do so without the aid of a supersonic jet or space shuttle” (ABC News Online).

More and more stories are featuring individuals who are transforming their big ambitions into actions. The pendulum swing of grand achievements and discoveries is undeniably moving from government sponsorship to private citizen funding. The only assumed anomaly is research and development regarding military advancements, many of which we will likely never see or know about…

There certainly are questions to be asked with this gradual yet undeniable swing. Has the uniquely American notion ‘power of the individual’ entered a new era with regard to exploration? Is this transition one way to more clearly define government’s role in society? Recalling the national pride and success of 1969, is this a good thing?

Felix Baumgartner’s jump from the edge of space from inside a personal capsule endorsed by Red Bull Stratos overlooking planet earth instantly altered the modern definition of a skydiver. His single leap from the edge of space has set a precedent for what is sure to come next from somebody who dares to dream even bigger. Publicity stunt or not, Baumgartner and Red Bull proved the thrill we share of just imagining what the next steps or leaps the human race will take. This is part of the American dream and American ideal and its exciting to witness each person’s attempts to alter the world we live in because he or she ultimately was driven by the following notion:

“why not?”