Now that the division series and the second debate are past, we can think about the guy who jumped out of the balloon thingy. The scientific payoff from this show was amazing. First, it was observed that Baumgartner indisputably fell toward the earth, generalizing Galileo’s Tower of Pisa results (not to mention all the other stuff like airplane and rocketship parts that have done that from really really high up). He went faster and faster up where there was almost no air, then slower as the air got thicker, then even slower when his parachute opened, and he stopped exactly when he hit the ground, not a moment before or after! Who could have possibly predicted that sequence?!!? This is why scientific theory has to be confirmed with experiments, folks.
Big lessons here: there is gravity even with almost no air, air is very different from New Mexico soil (not being solid, and like that), and the air is thicker down here than up there! OK, not amazing.
There’s more: because he was wearing a space suit with an oxygen supply, he survived when he depressurized his capsule and stepped out whereas he wouldn’t have if he were in gym shorts. So we learn that if you wear a space suit (or a pressurized capsule, or an airplane with a pressurized cabin) you can not only live in no air (like the guys in space program doing their space walks, moonwalks, etc.) but in hardly any air! Also, he seems to have exceeded the speed of sound. Exactly like the folks whizzing around in the space capsule, duh. Why is this interesting? Because if you did it down here dressed as he was, the shock wave would tear your space suit off, and probably some body parts. Why is this not interesting? Because the air he was falling through was so thin it didn’t matter. And if my grandmother had wheels…
The science (and the entertainment value, come to think of it) here is right up there with the physiological effects of the sponsor’s product: like drinking one cup of coffee, but way more expensive. It’s the perfect match of a useless product with a pointless trick.