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BigB's Musings :: The edge is not a crowded place, not popular and not warm and fuzzy.

Our World?

On 14 October 2012 the virtual world came to a standstill – a man jumps from 39 km’s above the earth surface and freefalls twittering to fame in less than 10 minutes. The world is in awe at this accomplishment as Felix Baumgartner breaks the 52 year old record of 31 km set by Joe Kittinger on 16 August 1960…
What blew my mind was not so much the amazing technology, the sheer guts, or the three world records that was shattered (and highly unlikely to be broken again), but the total ignorance, lack of awareness and total indifference to an event that occurred 7 months earlier, took years in planning, literally millions of Dollars and was technologically a thousand times more advanced than a helium filled balloon…
James Cameron took the Deep Sea Challenger 10.99 km in the Challenger deep on 26 March 2012 and failed to break a 52 year old record set by Walsh and Piccard on 23 January 1960 by a mere 12.5 m…( there is a bottom after all!).
What worried me was that Mr Cameron was very likely to have run into a plastic bag down there, or possibly a rusty tin can. Space is infinite – had Felix looked up (I’m sure he did) he must have seen an endless void speckled with possibilities…James Cameron was at the deepest part of our planet and knows that there is nothing more (maybe another 12.5 metres but that’s it!)

The dark abyss does not lend itself to twitter feeds and worldwide live streaming; nor does it make for enthralling vistas that stretch endlessly, at most a few measly metres lit by powerful spotlight becomes the world – interspersed with tantalizing glimpse of alien life forms on the edge of the beams. But this is where we live, this is all we have, and if we keep generating more trash, burn fossil fuels indiscriminately and harvest without worrying about sustainability, we will never know what that shape at the edge of the light was.

Felix Baumgartner saw our planet from the outside – he saw the curvature and knows that it has an end – James Cameron saw it from inside. Everything in between what these two men saw is ours, it has limits – what are you going to do with your bit today?

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