Tag Archives: Ocean

Are You Not Entertained: The Amazing Feats of Human Potential

Yesterday, I was watching Diana Nyad’s press conference and it got me thinking about human potential. Not just human potential, but demonstrated human potential.

Over 50 years ago, Sir Roger Bannister busted all previously held illusions about human potential by running one mile in less than 4 minutes. Today, the world record sits at almost 20 seconds better than what Bannister ran on that fateful day in May. The day before yesterday, Diana Nyad swam — yes, swam — from Cuba to Florida without a shark cage, (which from the way she describes it, is a really big deal). A little over a year ago, James Cameron went deeper in the ocean than any other human has ever been. This past October, Felix Baumgartner reached the top of the sky when he jumped out of a capsule almost 40km up (into the stratosphere)! How about William Trubridge who, in 2011, set the world record for “free immersion” diving, [underwater without the use of propulsion], by going to a depth of 121 meters. Or maybe Dashrath Manjhi, commonly referred to as “Mountain Man,” who didn’t want anyone else in his village to die because a doctor was too far away, so he carved a path through a mountain. It took him 22 years.

I think at times — especially like these — it’s important to reflect on the amazing feats that humans can achieve when we put our minds to it.

These are just a few “recent” examples (and one not so recent). We could also pull up other examples from history. A common one is JFK exclaiming that he wanted to put a man on the moon before the end of the 60s — check. At the time, that was an unbelievable goal. It certainly helped that there were political implications to this goal, but nonetheless, humans did it. If we want to go back a little bit into history, we can think about Joshua Slocum who was the first person to single-handedly sail around the world.

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Is there something you’ve always dreamed of doing, but were too afraid to really get into it? People like Felix Baumgartner, Diana Nyad, James Cameron, and Sir Roger Bannister, I hope, can give you the motivation and the confidence you need to venture out to pursue that audacious goal. If there’s something that you dream of, believe that you can do it. Believe that you have the willpower and you will find a way to make it.

If you’re looking for a good place to start on your dreams, I highly recommend the idea of macro goals and micro quotas. It certainly seems to work for some folks who are achieving their dreams. Maybe it can work for you, too.

Wanna Make a Name for Yourself: Answer One of These Questions

In The Guardian today, there’s an article that lists “20 big questions in science.” If you want to be famous (at least in some circles), answer one of the questions. Of course, there are some ‘answers’ to the questions already. Or maybe it’d be more accurate to say that there are some hypotheses or that there is some ‘general knowledge’ in the domain of the question. However, there don’t seem to be any definitive answers, yet.

Here are the questions with a few thoughts after some of them:

1. What is the universe made of?

2. How did life begin?

3. Are we alone in the universe?

If pressed to give an answer on number three, I’d probably say something to the effect of: given how big the universe is, mathematically speaking, isn’t it more likely that there is other life out there somewhere than isn’t?

4. What makes us human?

5. What is consciousness?

On number five, I remember reading a very intriguing article in The Atlantic this past winter that explored the question: what does it mean to be conscious? It approached this question in the context of anesthesia. If this question interests you, this is one way to delve into the topic.

6. Why do we dream?

While there are many theories on why we dream, one of my favorite ways for interpreting dreams is through Jeremy Taylor’s method. This method also outside the context of dreaming.

7. Why is there stuff?

8. Are there other universes?

9. Where do we put all the carbon?

10. How do we get more energy from the sun?

Number ten, while also making you famous, would likely also make you extremely wealthy unless you went the route of Jonas Salk and polio.

11. What’s so weird about prime numbers?

12. How do we beat bacteria?

13. Can computers keep getting faster?

14. Will we ever cure cancer?

15. When can I have a robot butler?

16. What’s at the bottom of the ocean?

On number sixteen: when you realize that 95% of the ocean is unexplored, it sort of gets you curious about what might be down there. More than that, 99% of the Earth is water. There’s a lot we don’t know about the planet we inhabit.

17. What’s at the bottom of a black hole?

18. Can we live for ever?

19. How do we solve the population problem?

20. Is time travel possible?

On number twenty: if this turns out to be true, that would make for some interesting ethical and moral dilemmas.

Humans Reach the Top of the Sky and the Bottom of the Ocean — in the Same Year!

Earlier this week, I came to a realization: humans have made some startling ‘achievements’ this year as it relates to pushing the boundaries of experience up — and down. Forgive me if you’ve already made this connection (or if someone else already has), as I said, I just came to this realization a couple of days ago.

Down
Almost 8 months ago, director, screen-writer, visual artist, imaginary genius, and all-around cool guy (he’s Canadian, too!), James Cameron reached the “bottom of the ocean” — the Mariana Trench. Cameron was the first person to do this dive solo and no doubt, saw things that no other human being has ever seen. Absolutely remarkable. I can’t wait to see what kinds of things that Cameron comes up with after having added these new images to his realm of possibility.

Up
Just about a month ago now, Felix Baumgartner reached the “top of the sky.” Baumgartner travelled almost 40 km up into the stratosphere — and then jumped! The stratosphere! Baumgartner now has the record for highest manned balloon flight and the highest altitude jump. Part of the purpose of the jump was to collect data to assist in the probability of space tourism.

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So — in case you hadn’t put “Up” and “Down” together, humans have gone to places they’d never gone before. The strange part that I see is that in amongst everything, both of these events weren’t necessarily initiated by government agencies. The “Up” certainly had NASA assistance, but it wasn’t something (from what I’ve read) that was initiated by NASA. Similarly, the “down” wasn’t initiated by a government agency, either. I wonder if this will be a sign of things to come. That is, can we expect more exploration paid for by private funding rather than public funding?

Charting The Unknown: What’s It Like To Explore

A few weeks ago, I had the chance to see a . This particular luau was a little different from most luaus. Most have the traditional Hawaiian food, Hula dancers, Poi spinners/twirlers, and music. This particular luau that I saw was a cross between that and a retelling of the story of some of the first voyages from Tahiti to Hawaii. From the luaus website:

It is during the time of epic voyages between Hawaii and Tahiti, along one of the longest sea roads of Polynesia, that our journey takes place. Through laughter, fear, seduction and fire, a new legacy is created, born from the cherished seeds of their ancestors.

As the show concluded, I couldn’t help but wonder… what was it like for those early explorers of the world?

Outside of astronauts, I really can’t think of anything that compares to what these early explorers might have been feeling before beginning their journeys. And these astronauts would only have relatable experiences to those explorers that set sail after the ones that had already gone “first.”

Just stopping for a moment… to consider what it’s like to leave everything you know – everything you’ve ever known – to get on a boat to set sail for the new land. Not knowing what kind of topsy-turvy experience the ocean will gift them with. Not knowing what kind of experience the new land will bring them. Will their be food? Will we be able to make shelter? Will there be predators? But maybe most of all, will we make it?

It’s a reasonable question, yes? You’re venturing out into the unknown. Venturing out into uncharted territory. For those initial explorers, for the ones who left their land before anyone else had done so, they were venturing out into the water before anyone else had. They didn’t know that they would eventually find . I just can’t imagine what it was like for these early families to voluntarily leave everything they’ve known.

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History wasn’t a . Nonetheless, I understand the importance of having an understanding of where we (as a species) have been to understand the possibility of where we may be going. As I reflect on some of these early experiences of our species, I wonder if, in my lifetime, we will again get to have this feeling of . I suppose we could say that scientists get to have this feeling when they conduct research. They are, in a sense, charting the unknown. Beyond that, we could even stretch the metaphor to include psychologists/psychiatrists who offer counseling where they help the client “plunge the depths of their psyche.”While these experiences may be similar, they don’t give me the impression that they would compare to making humans feel “small” in the sense that an experience like setting sail on the ocean might. Leaving the edge of the shore and being out in the open water without land as far as the eye can see — it’s quite an extraordinary sight! In fact, I’m told there’s nothing like it. To see stars stretch from one end of the horizon all the way to the other. Remarkable.

It can also be humbling, can’t it? To see a sight like this and realize that the Earth, that humans, are just a tiny spec in the universe. I really hope that in my lifetime (or very nearly after), humans again get to have that feeling. That humans will pilot spaceships and attempt to physically chart the depth and the expansiveness of the universe. I think we can do it. I feel we can do it.