Monday, May 3, 2010

Bertrand Piccard's solar-powered adventure

By Nolan M.

Bertrand Piccard, an extreme adventurer, offers us a challenge. He wants us to find motivation in what could seem impossible. He uses his own personal plans to do what many of us will say is impossible, to fly around the world in a solar powered aircraft.

Bertrand begins his speech by explaining why he is here and what has to to with the subject of the talk. He is very passionate about ballooning; he uses the experience he had in the balloon as metaphor, "Because in the balloon like in life, we go very well in unforeseen directions." They wanted to go in a certain direction but the wind blew them in another, like in life. Bertrand and Brian Jones flew around the world in a hot air balloon, which has left him with unforgettable moments, and he has also brought back something else. When the capsule of his balloon was introduced in the Air and Space Museum, he had a thought. " I thought, well the 20th century, that was brilliant. It allowed to do all those things there. But it will not be possible in the future any more. It takes too much energy."

Here is where the great idea started, he wanted something that could be independent from fossil energy. "And this is when the project Solar Impulse really started to turn in my head", Bertrand stated. So his idea is that if they can soar around the world in a solar powered aircraft, using no fuel, then no one could say it's impossible for cars, heating systems, computers etc. Even though the idea is not new, Bertrand believes previous models have just proven the limits of renewable energy but not the potential of it. "If we want to show the potential of it we have to fly day and night", Bertrand is obviously very dedicated towards the project; he believes it can happen. The question that Bertrand argues is how can they get a pilot around the world in the plane that uses the same amount of energy as a large Christmas tree. Some people can believe in this project but there are of course those who don't; "People will try to tell you its impossible, and that is exactly why we try to do it". They have already started the designs, computing and starting the designs of the first prototype, the next goal is to take off. Near the end of the speech he states, "The success will not come if we just fly around the world in a solar-powered plane, the success will come if enough people are motivated to do the same in their daily life, save energy, go to renewables." That is one of many major messages we can get from the speech, another is one that Bertrand states at the end of his speech, "Because the most renewable energy we have is our own potential, and our own passion."

Bertrand Piccard, from the beginning of the speech, had the viewers drawn in and thinking of about the things he was discussing. He started the speech by giving us a metaphor to think about. He stated "because in the balloon like in life, we go very well in unforeseen directions." Right away he had us thinking about where this speech could be going. From there his explanations are concise and he is not vague about anything he is trying to get across to us. I like how he started his speech by telling a brief story about the journey he had in the hot air balloon. He was proud that he and Brian Jones flew across the world in this balloon, but he wanted to achieve something better. That is where the idea of the solar-powered aircraft came about; he had the dream and is making it come true. Through the speech he leaves us thinking about many things; he leaves us thinking about how we can change the world as a individual, and the little things we could do to make the world a better place. It is great to see people who are willing to take a different step than everyone else; not only to dream about it, but to act on it.

In conclusion, Bertrand's talk was very persuasive and was full of meaningful messages that we can carry on in our own lives. You want to go fast in the wrong direction, or slow in the right, this was a great message the he learned from the experience but also that we can also learn from him. The success is going to come from people using the information Bertrand has provided us with and putting it into our own lives. We need to save our energy and go to renewables.

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