Monday, February 19, 2007

Boston sees the ants, but misses the anthill

I don't get it. Boston, Massachusetts gets all freaked out when Peter Berdovsky and Sean Stevens put some lite brites around town, yet when someone starts climbing buildings, Boston does not go into a complete state of panic.

Nathan Ball, 23, a Newport High School graduate and now a graduate student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, is the 2007 winner of the $30,000 Lemelson-MIT Student Prize for inventing a device that nearly makes the comic book fantasy of "leaping tall buildings in a single bound" a reality.

About the size of a hand-held power tool, the 20-pound "Atlas Powered Rope Ascender" can lift a 250-pound load more than 600 feet at about 10 feet per second on a single battery charge. Ball, who is pursuing a master's degree in mechanical engineering at MIT, said the invention has practical applications for cave exploration, recreational climbing, urban warfare, and rescue work. For example, it would allow a firefighter in full rescue gear to reach the top of a 30-story building in 30 seconds.

Or a terrorist to ascend the Empire State Building in mere seconds.

So why does Ball escape Beantown condemntation? Must be the hairstyle.


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