Two epic events happened this last weekend that made me spend some time pondering how and why humans push limits.
First, Los Angeles celebrated and cheered the Endeavour space shuttle on its final journey through the streets of LA to the California Science Center. A game of inches, that move was, with its arrival delayed some hours because crews needed to trim extra branches from trees and maneuver the shuttle sideways at times to clear historic trees and everyday residences. (Photo from my friend Miruna.)
The second event was Felix Baumgartner's attempt to skydive from the highest altitude ever (120,000 feet or 23 miles) and, along the way, break the sound barrier in only a spacesuit and helmet (meaning without being inside a capsule or vehicle). More than most record-breaking efforts, this one seems to generate head-shaking and pronouncements that "he's nuts." Certainly that's my opinion.
I sat there watching, wondering why I was doing so. I mean, the guy could have died. Why did I care? Why was I interested? And then I realized his attempt was just another means of pushing the boundaries of what we think humans are capable of. To quote the Olympics: faster, higher, stronger. Just like car racing.
So I suppose I followed the space shuttle's journey and watched Baumgartner free-fall for the same reason I watch racing: because while I'm not interested in pushing boundaries myself, I'm fascinated by those who have the strength, talent, and will to do so.
What about you all? Did you watch Felix Baumgartner? Do you want to push boundaries yourself?