The Jeff Wise Blog

Dude, Your Jetpack’s Here

Just spent the morning doing something I’veĀ  been wanting to try for years: Fly a jetpack. JetLev, the unit’s manufacturer, just completed the first production model and let me be the first media to experience it first-hand. Instead of a rocket expelling hot gas, you’ve got twin nozzles shooting out high volumes of water at low pressure. You’re tethered to the surface by a 33-foot-long flexible hose. It’s a total hoot. Note that I’d only been flying this contraption for a few minutes when the video was taken. I got better — a little — after logging about 30 minutes total flying time; I was able to go higher and keep the thing under better control; the demo pilots can pull off some really impressive flying. I’ll be writing about the experience soon for Popular Mechanics.

Filed under: Thrills

Breaking the Oldest Land-Speed Record

Looks fast, right? It isn’t.

A few weeks ago Popular Mechanics posted my article about the British Steam Car Challenge and how they managed to break (barely) a record that dates back (if you squint at it the right way) to 1906. The full story is here, but today I wanted to take the opportunity to post some video from my time out in the desert with the team, so that interested readers can get a sense of what this thing looks like in action. In the video, it seems like it’s scorching, but the official speed on this run was only 127 mph.

They managed to up that figure later, but as one astute PM commenter observed, “3 Megawatts is equivalent to 4,000 horsepower, and they only got 150 mph? Something is very wrong with their design.”

Filed under: Thrills

Has BASE Jumping Gotten Boring For You?

I’m talking with Red Bulletin magazine about doing an interview next week with Travis Pastrana, the man who embodies the joyful abandonment of fear. It’s got me thinking about the mindset of people who reach the absolute outer limits of thrillseeking. And that line of thought leads inevitably to this:

How do you get the point where this is your form of recreation? I imagine you try skydiving, that gets boring, so you try BASE jumping, and that gets boring; you fly a wingsuit away from the mountain, that gets boring; so you try flying the wingsuit as close to the mountain as you can get. Where do you go from here? Well, one ideas is the project that daredevil wingsuiter Jeb Corliss is working on, trying to figure out how to land a wingsuit without using a parachute. He’s been at it for a few years yet and hasn’t cracked that nut yet, but that’s just as well, because I really can’t imagine what he’d do for an encore.

Filed under: sports, Thrills, video

Thinking About Fear & the Brain

If I find myself in a severe crisis, will I be able to keep it together? How can I control anxiety and panic? Is it possible to lead a life less bounded by fear? These are the sorts of questions that I'll be exploring in this blog, an offshoot of my book, Extreme Fear: The Science of Your Mind in Danger, published on December 8, 2009 by Palgrave Macmillan.

Video Introduction

Also by Jeff Wise