An Austrian skydiver, Felix Baumgartner, will attempt to parachute from a record 120,000 feet. That’s about 23 miles.
The Guardian puts that height in perspective, at right. The more you know about physics and atmospheric science, the scarier the chart.
The cool part: Baumgartner will hurtle toward Earth so fast that he will become the first person to break the sound barrier without an airplane or somesuch propulsion.
So why shouldn’t you try this?
First, you’d need a pressurized suit.
[It] completely encases him to maintain air pressure and provide an oxygen supply.
The suit is similar to those worn by astronauts but it has to be tougher and more mobile than a Nasa space suit.
Do you have a suit like that? You better:
It will have to maintain its integrity in the near vacuum of the very high atmosphere: if there is a serious breach in the suit, Mr Baumgartner’s tissues would start to swell and the moisture in his eyes and mouth would start to boil.
Called upon to comment, the RAF’s David Gradwell freaked out.
“[Mr Baumgartner] will be falling very fast so he will have to be sure he remains stable so that he doesn’t spin out of control,” he told BBC News.
“He needs to see through the visor of his pressure helmet to see what’s going on in order to operate his parachute properly and see that it has properly deployed.”
I’m not so sure how much he needs a crystal clear visor. Suppose the suit shreds like a flag in a hurricane and Mr. B’s internal fluids turn his body into a bloated cauldron while he rifles downward faster – literally – than a speeding bullet. Who wants to see that?