Tag Archives: YouTube

Red Bull Stratos Not Science

*Iowa State Daily column by Ian Timberlake*

Standing on a floating ledge with a 128,000-foot view of the world, blue below and black above, I am sure Felix Baumgartner felt nothing less than complete and total nirvana. What goes up, must come down.

He jumped.

Plummeting at 834 mph, 162 mph faster than the speed of sound at that altitude, Baumgartner officially became the first human to break the sound barrier unaided nor protected by a vehicle.

Red Bull Stratos – Felix Baumgartner at 128,000

This is not science, as many of the 8 million live YouTube followers might have lead you to swallow.

In the sense of research and discovery, this jump had nothing to do with modern science. Baumgartner and his Red Bull Team Stratos utilized what was already known in science to make a safe and successful landing for the daredevil stunt.

From the capsule, to the pressure suit, to the helium-filled balloon, to the parachute, this skydive from the stratosphere was a harmonious symphony of applied science — but certainly no “giant leap for mankind”.

Sure, we now know definitively that humans can make a safe reentry from the middle of the stratosphere, though this isn’t even close to what we consider “space”. Touted as “#SpaceJump” on Twitter, the jump has over 100,000 feet to go before you leave the stratosphere and enter the mesosphere. “Space” is considered to be 62 miles high; Baumgartner was at 24 miles. The International Space Station orbits at 200 miles; it was hardly a test of emergency human reentry that the project website claims it was.

We also know officially that a human can break the sound barrier unaided, but everything we already knew about science told us that this would be possible and safe.

Not to detract from Baumgartner’s accomplishment, I was glued to the live YouTube video for its entirety, over two hours. How vapid of me.

Baumgartner’s jump was astonishing, a true spectacle and completely bad-ass; simultaneously, it would have been laughable if this were a NASA, U.S. Air Force or SpaceX mission.

Baumgartner is an amateur in the world of high-altitude feats and technology. I will equate it to that of hobby rocketry. An amateur rocket enthusiast (such as myself) has yet to place a hobby rocket into orbit (they have placed one into “space”); the day they do put a hobby rocket into orbit will be an amazing feat of accomplishment, not of science.

Memes appeared the day of Baumgartner’s great accomplishment, hopefully tongue-in-cheek, representing Red Bull taking over America’s space program. Some of them were quite humorous — replacing the NASA logo with the Red Bull logo on the Space Shuttle. I sure as hell hope not.

A friend of mine also in aerospace engineering made an observant note, rightly so, that in the days following Red Bull Stratos, no professor in the department mentioned the jump.

I can say the same thing, but my professors did in fact discuss Mars Curiosity and Falcon9. At the risk of sounding redundant, Red Bull Stratos was an extreme stunt, not science.

To give credit where credit is due, Baumgartner’s stunt was, in fact, an inspiration for the younger generation. This is something we greatly need in the world, especially America.

Education, specifically in the math and sciences, is not just in the decline but far below most other major nations in the world. As of 2009, 15-year-olds in the United States ranked 25th among peers from 34 countries in math and science.

Hopefully his jump solicited enough awe in the youth to incline them to pursue technology and science related fields. Unlike fifty years ago, it is unfortunate that actual science no longer works as well as stunts in regards to inspiring the public.

It would have been nice if Red Bull included more scientific educational material during the live broadcast and treated it more as an educational opportunity than as a (literal) publicity stunt.

Baumgartner attained what he wanted, a world record, and Red Bull got what they wanted, an audience of 8 million and growing. And Joe Kittinger, Baumgartner being his legacy, may have first-handedly witnessed what it takes nowadays to get people interested in science: an extreme stunt sponsored by an energy drink.

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Iceland’s New Open-Source Constitution

*Iowa State Daily column by Ian Timberlake*

Iceland leaves no leaf unturned. Iceland rewrites and updates its constitution, open-source, through social media platforms. As your jaw retreats back to its skull, read that again.

This time last year, 25 representative citizens turned in the first draft of a “crowd-sourced” constitution constructed via the internet that would become the new governing document of the nation. This was as a result of the 2008 economic collapse the nation saw that sent them from towering in as one of the richest nations in the world to less than empty pocketed. It was the greatest collapse any nation has suffered (relative to its size) in economic history.

Iceland’s Parliament

In 2010, Iceland decided to start “ný,” or fresh, as we might call it. Upon liberation from Denmark in 1944, Iceland adopted its constitution, a near carbon copy. The only practical alteration was the term “king” that was changed to “president.” Being progressive, Iceland decided to push the boundary of what the rest of the world might consider acceptable politics. Thus, heralding in a new age of government deliberation.

Opening up to the citizens of Iceland online government forums, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and other social media platforms, a new constitution was assembled through suggestion and inquisition. Many thousands of people from the small nation contributed, giving their take on exactly what the new constitution would entail. The 25 citizen representatives were to analyze the information and create drafts of the constitution, presenting the drafts live, online. A literal evolution of the document took place, perpetuated by the people.

The result? A perfectly compromised constitution in that it guaranteed freedom and protection of the people, maintained government balance and order and was as close to systemically pleasing as possible.

I am surprised it took me two years to hear about this. I feel like news of this sort is acute to the 21st century and a glimpse to future global government and politics. I recently heard about it because the citizens are making a referendum this October for a number of things: abolishing the state church in favor of separation of church and state, declaring public ownership of natural resources, state provided internet access, among other things.

What we are seeing is a shift in government policy making, at least with Iceland. With the election looming, American citizens and Iowa State’s students alike would benefit from understanding the fundamental ideology Iceland has created. I am too cynical of our citizens to think open-sourcing our constitution would be remotely helpful, we already have a work of art as a constitution. However, I do suggest that we take the idea of open-sourcing and apply it to political discourse and voting. Americans should vote not on the basis of party and/or ideology, but on policy that is best suited for the whole of the nation.

For example, there is a slight yet stark difference between being Republican because you align yourself with the ideologies, and being Republican because it closest fits your own personal ideology. The open-sourced constitution of the Icelandic people removes partisanship association and takes the differing ideologies of each citizen and evolves them into one perfectly compromised set of national law.

You might argue that partisan politics is necessary. What if I told you that we no longer live in an age where either party is ideal? If the winner of the presidential race always was the most well suited for the nation, then each presidential inauguration would come with a seamless continuation or evolution of the previous president, and we don’t see that. Gridlock in decision making has made it nearly impossible to progress in policy making.

Iceland’s open-sourced constitution brings forth the possibility to have politics (as opposed to just constitutional law) always move the nation in the direction most desirable. There would no longer be a constitution tug-of-war across the aisle and instead self-perpetuating compromise between all citizens of the nation.

Voting for a party comes with a catalog of presuppositions, some of which I might be in favor of and others I might not be in favor of, leaving me with a vote toward the lesser of the two evils.

I say we become an open-source society. Leave the constitution be, but allow the citizens of America to debate and “write” future laws into official government practice. Not simply voting, but actual law writing, without the need to lobby and/or strongarm. Oxford psychologist, Dr. Susan Blackmore, has said we are no longer gene machines, but in-fact “meme-machines.” Just as in genetics, the most adaptive society is the most successful society; we need to become as transparent as possible, citizen-sourced.

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YouTube Artist to Pay Attention to: Trampled by Turtles – Victory

This is a little known group from Duluth, Minnesota that is growing in popularity like wildfire. They play modern bluegrass and are extremely talented… they also have some pretty awesome music videos.

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YouTube Artist To Pay Attention To: Mike Tompkins, A Capella Cover of Coldplay Paradise

There are so many videos this guy has that are amazing, it’s difficult to just pick one. I chose this one simply because I can’t imagine the amount of time and effort it took to piece together every single part in ‘Paradise’. All sounds are produced by Mike’s voice. Check it out.

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YouTube Artist to Pay Attention to: Noah Covers “Sexy and I Know It” by LMFAO

Hey folks, it’s been awhile since I have posted a “YouTube Artist to Pay Attention To”… and this one is worth it. His tag is “only1noah” and he does covers on guitar and piano. One of his latest covers is “Sexy and I Know It” by LMFAO.

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YouTube Artist to Pay Attention to: Charlie Puth & Emily Luther; Adele Someone Like You

Of the current posts I have made in regards to YouTube artists to watch, this video has to be the most popular already… and probably the first one I should’ve posted. Just like many others, Adele’s ‘Someone Like You’ song is one of my favorite songs. So much so, it’s the only song I can play on the piano and sing through. The YouTube profile name is: CharliesVlogs, hope you enjoy.

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YouTube Artist to Pay Attention to: JoJoBear123

There’s a lot of “next-door” talent out in the world and you just have to look for it and be able to recognize it. JoJoBear123 has several piano covers of songs that aren’t even written for piano. He also has a few originals. It doesn’t take 1 million+ views or a viral video to recognize talent. Have a listen to an original song…

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YouTube Artist to Pay Attention to: Linsey Pollak

Linsey Pollak is one of the most unique artists I have ever come across on YouTube. He makes all his instruments from hand out of various things like household appliances, to vegetables, to bicycles to condom bagpipes. Everything is hooked up to an amplifier to produce very unique and upbeat music. Have a look at his garden hose electric clarinet and his household duster recorder… also, it helps to have good speakers but it’s not necessary. From what I hear, Linsey is about finished with book as to how to make your very own household instruments.

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YouTube Artist to Pay Attention to: Lindsey Stirling; Lord of the Rings

YouTube channel “lindseystomp” is where you can find all of Lindsey Stirling’s work. She is a very eccentric and happy violinist/dancer who covers many popular songs from Lady Gaga to Lord of the Rings to LMFAO to Zelda. She has played in settings like basketball games in New York to candid beach performances to orchesis performances. She is worth a listen.

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YouTube Artist to Pay Attention to: The Piano Guys; Coldplay Paradise Cover

It’s entirely possible you have heard their music before as they have become pretty damn famous. A lot of people have heard their covers of popular music as well as their rendition of Star Wars called ‘Cello Wars’. Here are The Piano Guys ft. Alex Boye on a rendition of Coldplay – Paradise. The unique part, this is an Africanized version, must watch.

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