Red Bull, NASA, and Felix Baumgartner

Friday, October 19, 2012


Felix Baumgartner (Getty)

This week, daredevil skydiver Felix Baumgartner broke the sound barrier—and world records—when he jumped in free fall from 24 miles above the earth’s surface. People around the world watched in awe, but some criticized the jump as a mere publicity stunt for its corporate sponsor, Red Bull Energy Drink. Bob talks with Esquire contributing editor Luke Dittrich about how Baumgartner's jump, publicity stunt or not, has valuable scientific implications beyond being a PR triumph.

Aphex Twin - Untitled (Four Tet Remix)


Luke Dittrich

Hosted by:

Bob Garfield

Comments [5]

Bill Smith from Natchitoches, La

A little late here, but another prime example of media exhibiting "presentism". Harry Truman said the only thing new in the world is the history we don't know. Red Bull's sponsorship is not new -- in fact it was how most of the aviation achievements prior to WWII were funded. The irony here? 101 years earlier, Vin Fiz was emblazoned all over the first airplane to attempt to fly across America. That grape drink may be gone, but the plane remains -- in the main hall of the Air and Space Museum. Ironic that Felix's Red Bull capsule and suit will undoubtedly be there soon.

Dec. 16 2012 09:08 AM
anette from nyc

Bob Garfield and by extension On the media, concerns itself with the plight of journalists being targeted by the Taliban, but not a peep was heard from bob while the scientist calmly described monkeys being strapped down and span until their brain literally separates from their spines. You don't need to be a PETA activist to feel disgust, and to be disappointed that not even faint protest was uttered, citing the obvious cruelty and questioning the necessity of such experiment. The least any humanist could hope for is that the primates were sedated before this atrocity was forced on them.

Oct. 26 2012 05:02 PM
Mike G from Seattle

In my view, it's difficult to extrapolate Red Bull's actions into a more general trend. It's one thing to slap a logo onto a race car or sports team or high altitude capsule, it's quite another for the company to devote actual resources into technical development.

Look at a sport which is notoriously expensive and difficult to enter, let alone win - Formula 1. After half a dozen years, Red Bull owns not one but two teams and is on their way to third consecutive Constructor's Championship. This sort of performance is virtually unheard of in a series normally dominated by teams with 800+ races under their belts. That's in addition to all the other motorsports they participate in, the air races and so on.

Maybe it is all marketing, or maybe the owner has a thing for extreme sports, who knows. But what I can say is that given the amount of resources being spent on technical development and now scientific research, it's hard to see another company following in the foot steps of Red Bull.

Oct. 22 2012 03:32 PM
Reba Brewster from Syracuse, New York

As I was listening today on my way home from work and Luke Dittrich commented on how primates were spun on a platform until their brain stems severed. I was a little sickened by the whole thing. I realize there is research being done but that compelled me to comment. I didn't need to hear that.

Oct. 20 2012 08:08 PM
Jane from Prague

Of COURSE it's a publicity stunt and, as in university research, science is increasingly going to be funded by corporations. While it's sad and we lose out immensely on the less lucrative and less 'sexy' research, we STILL need some research.
Let's salute Kittinger who managed a hell of a jump himself and trained Baumgartner himself. His jump was funded by government.
Who do we trust more to fund research fairly is the tricky question. :-/

Oct. 20 2012 06:31 AM

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