People & Ideas
People & Ideas
THE IMPROVED SPACESUIT: Felix Baumgartner’s 24-mile space jump in October required a 334-foot-tall helium balloon to get him to altitude, a good deal of courage to hop off — and a tricked-out spacesuit to keep him alive on the way down. Made at Worcester’s David Clark Co., Baumgartner’s get-up featured rearview mirrors to watch for safety chute deployment, pressurization that literally kept his blood from boiling in the thin atmosphere, and maneuverability that allowed him to shift from a feet-first dive to the head-down “Superman” position necessary to fall safely.
JOHN FARRELL: After their worst season in 47 years, marked by a misdelivered Valentine and a COD shipment to Los Angeles, the Red Sox were looking for stability and familiarity in their new field manager. So they rewound to their glory days of champagne and bejeweled rings and brought back the man who’d directed their championship pitching staff, plucking him out of Toronto and plunking him down on what he called “the epicenter of the game.’’ John Farrell has a direct gaze, a strong handclasp, and firmly planted feet. Even better, he won’t have to ask directions to the home clubhouse.
MAPPING THE BRAIN USING A GAME: eyewire.org Computer games aren’t usually associated with productivity, but MIT researcher Sebastian Seung decided to turn the huge scientific challenge of mapping the connections in the nervous system into one. His Eyewire game harnesses the efforts of citizen scientists — 40 to 50 people play each day — to map neurons in the retina. Ultimately, Seung hopes to expand the mapping effort to better understand epilepsy, schizophrenia, and memory.
SWEAT-FIGHTING SHIRTS: ministryofsupply.com A group of entrepreneurs is warding off underarm sweat stains with dress shirts that make use of heat management technology originally developed by NASA. These $108 “Apollo” shirts, created by the Ministry of Supply apparel company in Boston, regulate the body temperature and are moisture-wicking, wrinkle-free, and machine-washable, promises Kit Hickey, one of the cofounders. But don’t throw out your Old Spice yet. “Guys typically still wear deodorant,” she says.
Sweat-fighting shirts at Ministry of Supply
MARYANNE O’HARA: When state engineers created the Quabbin Reservoir in the 1930s, four Central Massachusetts towns disappeared beneath the waters. In her debut novel, “Cascade”, Ashland resident Maryanne O’Hara chronicles the fate of one such (fictionalized) town and its inhabitants, notably Desdemona Hart Spaulding, an ambitious artist trapped in a loveless marriage. O’Hara, a former “Ploughshares” fiction editor, shapes her protagonist’s story to pose questions like: If art is not lastingly valuable, what is? Ponder that over your next glass of tap water.
"Cascade" by Maryanne O'Hara.
BARBARA ERICKSON: She helped raise a record $200 million in her last job, as a development executive at Save the Children in New York. Now she’s working to protect the Bay State’s beauty as president of the Trustees of Reservations. One goal in her new role: to double the 2 million annual visitors at Trustees properties over the next decade.