December 2, 2013

    Photo: androoouk / Flickr

Watch: It's Raining Women

Hallejulah!

On Saturday in Eloy, Arizona, just south of Phoenix, 63 women from across the globe lept from three separate airplanes roughly 18,000 feet up and linked hands, breaking the female head-first formation skydiving record by a long shot, Reuters reports.

The record was previously held by 41 women in 2010. The event was verified by the Swiss-based Federation Aeronautique Internationale at the site, said Nancy Koreen, U.S. Parachute Association director of sport promotion.

The previous day, about 800 miles west at the Jump Center at the Lodi Airport in California, 90-year-old Wanita Zimmerman was blowing kisses from the sky at a speed of 120 mph, NBC reports. The Elk Grove, California native thought the dive would make an excellent birthday present to herself.

"I did it on my 85th birthday five years ago and it was so much fun that I decided to do it again," she told NBC before her celebratory freefall.

Zimmerman, who plunged in tandem with a professional, was accompanied by her doctor, her doctor’s daughter, and her 69-year-old son, Gary. When asked whether she’d take the leap of faith again, she said: “We'll see how I feel when I’m 95.”

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    Photo: B.Stefanov via Shutterstock

Lindsey Vonn Delays ACL Surgery (Updates)

Will ski on partially torn ACL

Update: 10:00 a.m. December 4

The U.S. Ski Team announced Tuesday that Lindsey Vonn's doctor, U.S. Women's Ski Team Head Physician Bill Sterett, has cleared her for training runs. The reigning Olympic downhill champ will begin training session in Lake Louise, Canada, today. On Thursday, Vonn will decide whether she will compete in the World Cup competition this weekend.


12:03 p.m. December 2

In order to compete at the Sochi Olympics, Lindsey Vonn is delaying ACL surgery and continuing to train following a knee injury in November.

On Sunday, she reportedly took two warmup runs followed by three aggressive passes through the super-G course at Vail. Although she withdrew from a World Cup race at Beaver Creek last weekend, she still plans on racing at a World Cup event in Lake Louise depending on her knee.

"So it's kind of like, might as well see how long it holds up. Not a lot of options. In the end, surgery is going to have to happen," Vonn told reporters after a training session at Vail on Sunday.

During a training run at Copper Mountain two weeks ago, the defending Olympic downhill champion partially tore the ligaments in her right knee, the same knee that underwent major surgery in February.

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A bike commuter waits for traffic.     Photo: Gary Mark Smith/Wikimedia

The Rise of Bike Trains

Los Angeles group wants to ride to work with you

In Los Angeles, pedestrians and bicyclists account for about a third of all traffic fatalities, nearly triple the national average, according to the Los Angeles Times. And a new grassroots project believes there's safety in numbers for bicycle-riding residents.

Called L.A. Bike Trains, this organization encourages bicycle commuters to ride in groups. Instead of riding alone to work, an experienced cyclist, called a "conductor," will meet you at your door and ride with you to work and back. The average pack is about five people; the largest grow up to ten.

According to L.A. Bike Trains' website: "By riding together in a pack, you get safety in numbers and contribute to making drivers aware that cyclists are on the roads."

As many as a dozen volunteer conductors escort residents as much as 20 miles per trip each way on their bikes. Barbara Insua, who commutes seven miles from her home in Pasadena to NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab told NPR that she only started riding a few months ago.

"He came and picked me up from my house," Insua told NPR. "[He] went out of his way to get me to bike for two or three weeks. Then I was conditioned. Then I was brainwashed."

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An octocopter drone in flight.     Photo: cnrn/Thinkstock

Delivery by Drone

Get your Amazon order in 30 minutes.

Amazon's founder, Jeff Bezos, announced Sunday night on 60 Minutes that a drone delivery program is in the works for the web retail giant. Already coined Prime Air, the idea is to have small unmanned helicopters flying around delivering packages to your doorstep within 30 minutes of your purchase. “I know this looks like science fiction,” said Bezos. “It’s not.”

Although Amazon seems to think it has the technology ready for takeoff, it could be two or more years before regulations for the drones are in place, reports The New York Times. Obvious complications arise in regards to logistics, F.A.A. regulations, theft, and landing drones in crowded areas. “The hard part here is putting in all the redundancy, all the reliability, all the systems you need to say, ‘Look, this thing can’t land on somebody’s head while they’re walking around their neighborhood,’” Bezos told 60 Minutes.

Drones were approved for commercial use in early 2012, but many have taken exception to the technology, which has been used for surveillance, reports The Times. The small-unmanned aircrafts are gaining in popularity for many uses; journalists are even flying drones into locations that are difficult to access, such as areas destroyed by Typhoon Haiyan.

Want one? See our holiday gift guide for DJI's Phantom Aerial UAV Drone.


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A look back: Bruce McCandless II, from Space Shuttle Challenger, first using the Manned Maneuvering Unit in 1984.     Photo: Purestock/Thinkstock

Self-Sustaining Space Suit in Works

To use body heat for energy

Researchers say a next-generation space suit could monitor astronauts' health and use their body heat to power electronics.

Developed at Kansas State University, the space suit would incorporate biosensor technology to keep track of astronauts' vitals, such as breathing rate and muscle activity.

The reseachers, who include students and professors, are also looking to use the temperature difference between body heat and the space suit's cooling garment to power radios and other electronics.

Batteries are too dangerous to place in an astronaut's oxygen-rich space suit, researchers told The Associated Press, spurring their interest in new energy-harvesting methods.

Producing spinoff technologies, such as new radio technologies and devices that apply to home care, will comprise the last part of the unversity's research.

To view a history of space suits sported by NASA astronauts, click here.

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