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Supersonic Skydive 
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Heinlein Nexus
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Post Supersonic Skydive
A Red Bull-sponsored project is going after Joe Kittinger's skydiving record. Cool. That's one of the best uses of advertising dollars I've seen.

I think, based on this extract:
Quote:
Once Baumgartner jumps from the capsule about 5 a.m. Pacific time, he's expected to become supersonic within 35 seconds and ultimately reach about 700 mph.
that they are being a bit coy with the definition of "supersonic" and relying on the fact that the speed of sound at higher altitudes is lower. Still, impressive nonetheless.


Fri Oct 05, 2012 1:06 pm
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Post Re: Supersonic Skydive
I'm just impressed that Kittinger is his mentor/coach... and that he's still alive. I remember reading a long account of his dive when I was a wee lad.


Fri Oct 05, 2012 3:23 pm
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Post Re: Supersonic Skydive
Likewise, and I remember reading a more recently penned account also. Some serious testicles on that guy.


Fri Oct 05, 2012 10:38 pm
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Post Re: Supersonic Skydive
Well, as a guide on a cave tour once said to my group... "Don't worry about being 1,300 feet down. You can't get buried any deeper, any cheaper." It would be much the same from 120,000 feet...


Sat Oct 06, 2012 5:55 am
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Post Re: Supersonic Skydive
PeterScott wrote:
Likewise, and I remember reading a more recently penned account also. Some serious testicles on that guy.

Want to hear Col. Joseph Kittinger give an excellent talk?

To hear him tell it, to Col. Joseph Stapp's* Dr. Bunsen Honeydew, Kittinger played Beaker.



*Stapp is also the guy who gave the world Murphy's Law.

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Sat Oct 06, 2012 9:25 pm
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Post Re: Supersonic Skydive
beamjockey wrote:
*Stapp is also the guy who gave the world Murphy's Law.


Probably not.

The standard story, spread by Stapp among others, is that ML is named after an engineer, Capt Edward Murphy, who shows up at Stapp's rocket sled tests at Muroc AFB in June 1949.
(Stapp had been there prior to that.)

The basic concept of the law, that nature will cause anything to go wrong that can go wrong, has been found in print back into the 19th century. "Murphy's Law" was applied to several different concepts through the 1950s, and didn't really settle down into what we now recognize -- "Whatever can go wrong, will go wrong" -- until 1960 or so, at which time it started to move from aerospace/technical circles into popular culture.

Members of the American Dialect Society's email listserv (including me) have been chasing the origins of "Murphy's Law" for years; specifically, when was the term "Murphy's Law" first applied to the idea?

The earliest known usage of the phrase in print is a book by Anne Roe, published in 1952, in which she quotes an interview she made in early 1949 with H. P. Robertson. Since "Murphy's Law" as a known phrase existed prior to Ed Murphy meeting Stapp at Muroc, the whole Stapp/Murphy/Muroc theory is suspect.

The wikipedia article on "Murphy's Law" has details and references, and the archives of the ADS-L have even more than you'd ever want to know about incremental additions to the story. BTW, Bill, one of the names that shows up in the search is "I. C. Cornog" -- is he related to Bill Cornog?

Having said all that, Stapp certainly helped popularize the idea and name for "Murphy's Law" (and did a bunch of other stuff that is much more important).


Thu Oct 18, 2012 12:51 pm
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Post Re: Supersonic Skydive
BillMullins wrote:
beamjockey wrote:
*Stapp is also the guy who gave the world Murphy's Law.
Probably not.

The standard story, spread by Stapp among others, is that ML is named after an engineer, Capt Edward Murphy, who shows up at Stapp's rocket sled tests at Muroc AFB in June 1949.

You have better knowledge of the controversy than I do. I was going by a series of articles by Nick T. Spark on the Web which also became a book. You're probably familiar with them.
Quote:
Members of the American Dialect Society's email listserv (including me) have been chasing the origins of "Murphy's Law" for years; specifically, when was the term "Murphy's Law" first applied to the idea?[...]
The wikipedia article on "Murphy's Law" has details and references, and the archives of the ADS-L have even more than you'd ever want to know about incremental additions to the story.
That's an above-average article. And it namechecks you and (a pseudonym of) G. Harry Stine.
Quote:
BTW, Bill, one of the names that shows up in the search is "I. C. Cornog" -- is he related to [Bob] Cornog?

Not that I know of. Seems to be an optics person.

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Fri Oct 19, 2012 8:38 pm
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Post Re: Supersonic Skydive
There's nothing wrong with Sparks' article -- it's just that new and better research has overtaken it. He did an admirable job of pulling togethe as much information as he could. So much folk etymology is based on oral histories or other poorly-documented (and verifiable) sources, that it is difficult to be certain of conclusions.

The Stapp story is so internally self-consistent, and it feels right -- I think most of us who have been researching the Law and its origins expected to verify it eventually. It is somewhat surprising that Ed Murphy is probably not "the" Murphy we are looking for (and the real one still hasn't been identified).

Now if we could just solve the "full nine yards" mystery . . . .
(and I say that slightly tongue-in-cheek, as the same group has made much progress on it in the last few years).


Fri Oct 19, 2012 10:46 pm
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Post Re: Supersonic Skydive
BillMullins wrote:
Now if we could just solve the "full nine yards" mystery . . . .
(and I say that slightly tongue-in-cheek, as the same group has made much progress on it in the last few years).

Oh, really?


Sat Oct 20, 2012 7:24 am
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Post Re: Supersonic Skydive
I was about to spend the time necessary to pull facts, links, etc., to expand on what I said, but the Wikipedia article does a pretty good job of saying what I would have said.

Up until ADS-L members started looking for the origins, the standard folk-etymologies for the expression was that it was either derived from the capacity of a cement mixing truck, or from the length of an ammo belt from some unnamed WW2 plane's machine guns. (There are other explanations, but these are the two most common ones.) The problem with these explanations is that there is no supporting evidence for them. Also, the expression (at that time) hadn't been found in print before the late sixties.

Cement trucks have never been standardized at nine cubic yards, and none of the early print citations have anything to do with the construction industry, so strike that. And the idea that such a common slang expression could have originated in WW2 and stayed unused in print for 20 years is simply not believable – even taboo expressions such as "SNAFU" were used in major newspapers before the war was out. If FNY was commonly used by airmen and pilots in the war, it would have been commonly in print soon after.

ADS-L investigators, over the last five years or so, have moved the earliest print citations successively earlier and earlier, but came to a brick wall in the early 1960s. Nearly all uses had either a military or aerospace/NASA context, leading to the idea that it came from one of those fields (which have substantial overlap).

In recent months, though, Bonnie Taylor-Blake has located two 1950s citations from obscure Kentucky conservation/wildlife magazines. And building on that, Bonnie and Fred Shapiro (a Yale law librarian and editor of the definitive quotation book _The Yale Book of Quotations_) found usage of "the whole six yards", exactly in the same context as we currently use full/whole nine yards, in Kentucky newspapers from 1916 (!), and then even earlier to 1912.

So the current thinking is:
"The Whole Six Yards" started in rural KY around the turn of the century and stayed there, as a localized expression, for 40 years. In the 1950's, it morphed into "full/whole nine yards", and within a few years after that, it jumped to the military/aerospace communities, and from there into common usage.

There is still no explanation of how the figurative expression was formed – did it originally mean six (or nine) literal measurable yards of something? Why was it originally six yards, and why did it change to nine? What was the vector into the mil/aero communities?


Sat Oct 20, 2012 2:09 pm
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