Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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makes base jumping look easy
  [vote for,

I'm scared of heights. No, really scared. But I would think about this if it were possible.

OK, it's a big ball, big enough to fit a person in. It's made of extra reinforced super strong rubber or some such, but it's transparent so you can see what's going on. You get in it, get strapped to the extra reinforced super strong harness, are loaded onto a plane which flies you over the desert and from 20,000 feet rolls you out.

You pay for the pleasure, of course. Might need a GPS in it to find you once the bouncing's over.

Would need to be stringently tested as well. I suggest Jeremy Beadle as test bouncer.

saker, May 06 2003

The NASA Version http://www.space.co...airbags_000707.html
The Mars Lander projects consider airbags essential. [jurist, Oct 05 2004]

Bubble Boy http://movieweb.com...e/bubbleboy/coe.jpg
This fellow meant to get a bigger bubble, but was a little unclear on the concept. [jurist, Oct 05 2004]

Helium-filled version http://www.parabounce.com/
Near-zero bouyancy means terminal velocity very low. [flypaper, Oct 05 2004]


       Neat idea, and it gets my croissant, but I would think that the g-forces generated when the ball hits the ground and bounces back up would scramble your insides into sausage meat.
DrBob, May 06 2003

       Sounds a great deal like our current method of deploying equipment onto the Martian surface. [See link] But NASA isn't crazy enough to rely on just one bubble-ball to protect their babies; they lash a dozen together into something that looks like a fairly complex molecule or rack of billiard balls. For personal safety you might have better odds of actually surviving the drop by considering a similar re-design.
jurist, May 06 2003

       parachuting is scary enough (and I'm talkin' static-line jumps at 1500 FT AGL, not freefall...).   

       + for the for the idea; - for the reality...
timpestuous, May 06 2003

       Jeremy Beadle here - reporting for duty.
Shz, May 06 2003

       This is quite workable. I agree with dag that keeping the terminal velocity down is the trick. You might want to try an inflatable porcupine suit. The inflated quills extend out 15 feet, providing a lot of drag as well as a soft landing.
pluterday, May 06 2003

       OK then, maybe 20,000 feet was a bit excessive. A little lower then, whatever would still capture the thrill element without mincing you up. Remember the little rubber balls you got as a kid that were just so super bouncy? That kind of thing...   

       Oh btw [Jeremy] - you're on!
saker, May 06 2003

       love it ! The exterior of the ball can have hundreds of 1-foot "pockets" facing in random directions to increase drag, reducing the impact. Problems like striking birds on the way down (possibly puncturing the material) could be bad.   

       Kevlar ? +
mahatma, May 06 2003

       You could also use it to do things like go over Niagara Falls in. Or how about build a device like a giant clay pigeon sling, maybe on a beach, that fired the Ultraball far out to sea, maybe with a bit of backspin for spice. That'd be a trip. Have to watch for shipping, mind. And especially not to sink your rescue vessel...
saker, May 06 2003

       //OK then, maybe 20,000 feet was a bit excessive.//

No, it doesn't matter. Go as high as you like. Once you reach terminal velocity, that's it, you won't go any faster.
pluterday, May 06 2003

       Obligatory Judge Dredd reference: 2000AD's Judge Dredd series featured Boing, a miracle plastic, that you spray on yourself to create an enclosed, perfectly elastic transparent sphere that you could breath through. The series would often show episodes where citizens bounced between mile high buildings with complete abandon. Boing would probably allow someone to survive a fall from terminal velocity, although not reentry as Boing has problems with heat and flame.
Aristotle, May 06 2003

       //go over Niagara Falls//   

       Hehe! – That’s the use I was thinking of.
Shz, May 06 2003

       what a brilliant idea. i feel like the ball could also be used as a torture method for osama when he's found. he must be dropped and not have any safety equipment inside to stabilize his bounce... his fate is in allah's hands. my first day as a member and bubblegirl hits a bubble ball... do wonders ever cease? i came here seeking answers to space trash and wandered into a realm of endless amusement. thanks!
bubblegrrl79, May 06 2003

       The bigger the ball, the lower the terminal velocity, and the more elastic you can cram in to absorb the shock. 20 feet, maybe.
galukalock, May 06 2003


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