Early Balloonists Took Science 'Up, Up and Away'
This is a very cool Science Friday segment that I wanted to share. I heard this a couple of weeks back while I was driving one afternoon, and I thought it was very entertaining. It's an interview with Richard Holmes, who wrote the book Falling Upwards, which is about some of the first people to explore the skies in hydrogen balloons. Holmes also wrote a great book called The Age of Wonder, which I highly recommend. I haven't read Falling Upwards, but based on the interview and an online excerpt, it sounds like it might be a good read. It certainly harkens back to a time when science was done a lot more Indiana Jones-style and involved a lot more risk to life and limb. These guys had no idea what was going to happen when they went into the sky. Would there be oxygen? Would they freeze or get struck by lightening? They didn't know, but went anyway. That took some serious guts or craziness or both.
If you know someone with an interest in science and history, The Age of Wonder or Falling Upwards might be a good gift this holiday season.