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Bungee Jumping and Skydiving: Gravity is a Good Sport

Sherry Roy

In the cult novel Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, Robert M. Pirsig argues that gravity does not exist. He pushes it further, saying that the law of gravity exists only in people’s heads. And that the reason everyone believes in the law of gravity is because of a “mass hypnosis in a very orthodox form known as education”.  

Possibly the best people to practically refute this outrageous idea would be those who understand gravity as a good sport (pun intended) - from bungee jumpers to skydivers.

Bungee Jumping

Leaping down from tall bamboo towers with only wines tied to their ankles was the final test of courage and an ancient manhood ritual of the Pentecost Islands native in New Zealand. But when four Americans happened to see a BBC footage of this, they tied elasticized rubber ropes to their feet, and jumped down Bristol’s Clifton Suspension Bridge on April Fool’s Day, 1979.

They didn’t die. Instead, a new sport called bungee (pronounced bunjie) jumping was born. The group expanded their jumping sites to mobile cranes and hot air balloons by 1982, and popularized this adrenalin rush around the world. The idea hit India in the early 1990s. Today, jumpers would not like to be reminded on that this began as an All Fools Day joke. They derive their thrill from the free-falling and from rebounding on the elastic strings. In fact, the root word ‘bungy’ is the Kiwi slang for ‘elastic strap’.

When the person jumps, he free falls for around five seconds (which seem like eternity) till the cord stretches to absorb the energy of the fall. That makes the jumper fly upwards again as the cord snaps back. The jumper oscillates up and down until all the energy is used up. Dinesh Pamwar, a college student, had his first jump in Romania: “Once your feet are tied up, you wiggle to the edge of the platform. The idea is to have half your feet over the edge and half on the platform. And in doing so, you inevitably look down. So you’re ready to jump and you get all these weird feelings in the pit of your stomach, your knees are weak and your spine is tingling... Then the jumpmaster says “Don’t look down, look at the horizon”, but it’s too late by then!” Acha Kamat from Mysore remembers that he didn’t hesitate one bit on his first jump: “I just jumped and was shouting out loud all the way down, and up, and down again, and up, and down again…”


How much will it cost?
Rs. 400-800/- per jump

Standard equipment Jumping Cords:
The common natural rubber bungee cords like Euro and Mil Spec cords stretch 2 to 4 times the original length and the jumper feels 2.5 to 3.5 G’s.

Harness:
A leg harness attached with the cord, and a body harness for backup.

Big equipment:
The platform from where the jumper bungees. This could be a mobile crane, a bungee tower, a river bridge, bungee platform of a building, etc.

 
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