Saturday, October 6, 2012

Daredevils Test Tesla Coil, Supersonic Skydiving

David Blaine's Electrical Stunt Could Create Harmful Ozone

One million volts of electricity could zap the magician as well as the lungs of onlookers

Flickr user seanP says this 2006 image shows 1 million volts creating arcs of electricity discharging through the air. The on-stage event was meant to reproduce of a lightening strike. Audience members in the front row could smell ozone, seanP wrote. Image: Flickr/seanP

Magicians hold details in high regard, so it’s fair to inquire about one of the key details related to stunt artist David Blaine’s feat that begins today at Pier 54 in New York City’s West Village: How will Blaine’s team handle all the excess ozone gas produced with each million-volt discharge from the Tesla coils?

For three days and nights, Blaine plans to stand atop a six-meter-tall pillar while Tesla coils, controlled by spectators, zap him with electricity. Paul Hoffman, chief executive of the Liberty Science Center, where Blaine is magician-in-residence, estimates one million volts will reach Blaine at any time. The Brooklyn-based endurance performer hopes to survive the Tesla coils—worth about $5 million and donated by software giant Intel--with a protective steel chain-mail suit and metal head cage, which will direct the flow of current around, not through him.

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Source: Scientific American Museum.

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Record-Breaking Supersonic Skydive Attempt Delayed to Tuesday

Date: 05 October 2012 Time: 07:24 PM ET
Baumgartner Before Jump
Pilot Felix Baumgartner of Austria seen before his jump at the first manned test flight for Red Bull Stratos in Roswell, New Mexico on March 15, 2012.
CREDIT: Jay Nemeth/Red Bull Content Pool

Weather concerns have pushed back an Austrian daredevil's attempt to break the world record for highest-ever skydive by one day, to Tuesday (Oct. 9).

Felix Baumgartner was slated to leap from a balloon nearly 23 miles (37 kilometers) above southeastern New Mexico on Monday (Oct. 8), breaking the sound barrier as he plummeted to Earth in a harrowing freefall.

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The Physics of the First-Ever Supersonic Skydive

Date: 04 October 2012 Time: 12:59 PM ET

An Austrian daredevil is gearing up to make the world's highest skydive on Monday (Oct. 8), a high-flying leap from 23 miles above Earth that promises to break more than one record if all goes according to plan.

Veteran skydiver Felix Baumgartner, 43, will make the jump, thereby becoming the first person ever to freefall faster than the speed of sound. His skydive will also be the highest ever, superceding a record set in 1960 by U.S. Air Force Captain Joe Kittinger by more than 3 miles (5 kilometers).

But what's the physics of this situation?

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