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August 23rd, 2013

…apparently even hungry goats do it! Why does everyone want to get off the ground? The goats have a reason of their own – there’s fruit up in the trees.

But most of us enjoy a bit of climbing, even if it’s only for the view from the top. Defying gravity is intrinsically appealing – and having cycled, walked or climbed a rope to get up high, the reward of stepping, freewheeling or just dropping back down is an empowering thrill.

Still, just climbing and descending doesn’t cut it for some people. The urge to get off the ground and stay in the air fuels occasions like the Worthing Birdman. True, the competitors’ trajectory is overwhelmingly downward once they leave the end of the pier, though some dip more steeply than others.

But this desire to lift off isn’t only shown by humorous amateurs. A Chinese team put thousands of hours of research and development into a featherweight 90’ wide human-powered plane, driven by one very fit slender pilot.

Gravity cuts all such accomplishments short, but a more lasting solution was found – “Zeppy” is a French pedal-powered airship, benefitting from a lot of helium to stay airborne, with the intension of crossing the Mediterranean.

Anyone who climbs, or works with heights by necessity, seems to get pretty blasé about them. But it’s odd that so many of us seem determined to keep going up, when most could just as easily stay on the ground.

In theory, we’re alarmed by height, but if our safety isn’t guaranteed we seem to like it – we certainly keep going back for more. Perhaps we’re just addicted to the potential for terror, as well as the fabulous views up there?

 

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