physicsScience

Calendar Curiosity: You’re Full of Hot Air

Today is the 228th anniversary of the first untethered, manned hot air balloon flight. While the balloon was not shaped like a beloved cartoon character, it was the first time humans had ventured freely into the sky. Can you even imagine what that must have felt like?! 

On November 21, 1783, Jean-François Pilâtre de Rozier, a professor of physics and chemistry, and the Marquis François Laurent d’Arlandes made history by becoming the first humans to ascend in a balloon and float freely in a flight that lasted for 25 minutes.  The pair launched from Château de la Muette on the western edge of Paris and travelled for nearly 6 miles. Some notables in the crowd were our pal Benjamin Franklin and King Louis XVI (this was probably the last happy thing that happened in poor Lou’s life as the French Revolution was just around the corner). Interestingly, King Louis had wanted to send two condemned criminals on that maiden flight, but Mssrs. de Rozier and d’Arlandes successfully petitioned to have that honor bestowed upon themselves.

The balloon was built by Joseph-Michel and Jacques-Etienne Montgolfier. The brothers had previously tested out unmanned and animal-piloted balloons. Additionally,  they had been the first humans to ascend in a balloon, although they were tethered to the ground during these tests.

I would like to remind our readers that we are only days away from Thanksgiving (in the US) and with it, the many (helium) balloons of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. It’s just so goofy and fun. And if you happen to be watching it on TV (because don’t we all watch parades on TV?) keep a look out for a new balloon designed by Tim Burton. It’s pretty great.

Lastly, you may have noticed that this is usually when Ryan does his Art Inquisition. Well, Ryan is currently out hunting to make his own Thanksgiving meal. He was last seen unloading some buckshot into an end-cap of cranberry sauce at his local supermarket.  Also, since Ryan is Canadian, this all happened in early October. We are only hearing of it now due to the space-time glitch that covered Canada in Quantum Foam.

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Brian George

Brian George

Brian George is an illustrator who lives and works in the Van Beardswick neighborhood of Brooklyn. His fierce love of cheesecake is often (but not always) thwarted by his intolerance for lactose. He will draw and paint for your amusement (‘amusement’ is archaic Etruscan slang for ‘money’). Visit his portfolio, follow his tweets @brianggeorge or on G+

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