Death by Selfie – Professional Base Jumper Unwittingly Predicts his own Death in Selfie

This is one of the last pictures of Gareth Jones, a selfie of his legs dangling off a cliff from a few hundred feet up. A few days later Gareth would be involved in an accident at this very spot and fall 300 feet to his death.

Gareth Jones uploaded the Selfie to his Instagram account
Gareth Jones uploaded the Selfie to his Instagram account

Gareth’s Instagram feed shows he was a guy full of adventure and enjoyed extreme sports including base jumping. Unfortunately this lifestyle would ultimately lead to his death. Gareth was reportedly seeking a better view of the sunrise when the accident occurred.

This wasn’t your typical photographer losing his footing, Gareth was a professional base jumper who had performed dozens of amazing stunts in the past. Recently he launched himself with nothing but a parachute from the top of the Menara Tower in Kuala Lumpur.

Gareth Jones was a professional basejumper, and a natural thrill-seeker.
Gareth Jones was a professional basejumper, and a natural thrill-seeker.

Even sadder is the fact that Gareth wasn’t the first person to meet his end whilst reaching for the perfect shot. Chris Illuminati of BroBible put together a list of recent tragedies involving the the new extreme-selfie craze. He presents it well:

While the issues and dangers that selfies pose on the mind and body are important, they’re not always measurable in all people. The actual deaths of people in the name of the awesome and enviable self portrait are quantitative. Here are just some of the tragic cases of deaths linked directly to selfies.

  • A 32-year-old woman in North Carolina was killed in a head-on crash with a truck. Investigators were told by her friends and family that she made a Facebook post in the moments before the crash. The woman posted a photo of herself, behind the wheel, reacting to the song “Happy” by Pharrell.
  • A month short of her 18th birthday, a teen fell off a railway bridge and was electrocuted by 1,500 volts as she tried to grab wires to break her fall. It’s believed the teen climbed the 30 feet onto the bridge to take a selfie.
  • Two men were trampled to death by an elephant in the Kiptagich Forest in Africa. The men were touching the elephants trunk and attempting to take selfies when the beast whipped the two to the ground and trampled over them to flee. The elephant was gunned down by Kenya Wildlife Service and Kenya Forest Service rangers in an attempt to save the men.
  • A Polish nursing student fell to her death while trying to take a selfie from the ledge of the Puente de Triana Bridge in Seville, Spain. According to witnesses, the woman lost her footing and fell 15 feet down to the concrete.
  • A 16-year-old Italian high school student attempted a selfie during a school trip in southeastern Italy. The young girl fell 60 feet onto jagged rocks and suffered injuries to her femur, pelvis and head. The teen was rushed to the hospital where doctors attempted to save her but she eventually succumb to her injuries.
  • A 21-year-old man from northern Mexico wanted a selfie for his Facebook page and used his live firearm as a prop in the picture. The gun discharged and shot him in the head.
  • A 13-year-old girl was visiting the El Tunal River in Mexico this past summer. She slipped and fell into the water while taking a selfie and the strong currents swept her away. She drowned and her body was recovered some time after the accident.
  • A family vacation in Cabo da Raca, Portugal turned tragic after a mother and father fell to their death while posing beyond a safety barrier over a cliff. Their two young children watched as the couple plummeted to their death.
  • A man climbed to the top of the train in Andujar, Andalusia, Spain to try to take a selfie. Unfortunately, during his selfie attempt, he touched a live wire and suffered a 3,500 volt shockwhich proved to be fatal.

We certainly don’t condone any type of dangerous activities to get the perfect selfie and at the same time we wouldn’t prevent anybody from pushing the boundaries of photographic genres, even the narcissistic selfie! But please, if you are someone who likes to take risks, please be careful and think of Gareth Jones, and what happened to an experienced professional before you do.

h/t Chris Illuminati of BroBible.

Amateur Astronomer Detects Exoplanet using low-end DSLR and $92 Lens

This DIY rig and some free software is all David Schneider needed to detect a known exoplanet.
This DIY rig and some free software is all David Schneider needed to detect a known exoplanet.

Just five years ago NASA launched the Keplar spacecraft into orbit at a cost of $600 million dollars on a quest to search our Milky Way galaxy for signs of exoplanets, or planets orbiting stars other than our own. In November, amateur astronomer David Schneider managed to detect one in his back yard using less than $500 of DSLR equipment. In fact, he didn’t even use a telescope.

Schneider, also a senior editor at IEEE Spectrum like the rest of us thought that only hardcore astronomers using expensive imaging and radio equipment had the tools to detect exoplanets. That was until he came across the KELT-North project by Ohio State university. whereby a group of students who had repurposed a CCD sensor to a high end camera lens and were able to detect several previously known exoplanets. With the amateur astrophotographer in mind, Schneider challenged himself with visualising an exoplanet with standard camera equipment.

Apart from requiring a standard sky tracker mount – An electronic geared system that guides your camera along the equatorial, thereby following the night sky – which would cost anywhere between $100-$1000 the only tools needed for the job were a DSLR camera, tripod and telephoto lens. What makes this even more remarkable is that Schneider used a $72 Nikon lens, with a Canon convertor ring to do the job – Heath Robinson or what?

Schneiders DIY Exoplanet Detecting Kit
Schneiders DIY Exoplanet Detecting Kit

The star chosen in question was HD189733, known to home a massive Jupiter sized planet that orbits the star once every three days. Perfect for this experiment. What Schneider would be looking out for is the transit period, where the planet passes in front of its home star thus causing a dip in brightness. This is known as transit photometry, the most commonly known way to discover exoplanets.

The dip in brightness is unfortunately too insignificant to visualise in a pair of photo frames, not to mention the many variables that would effect any attempt at detection this way, so Schneider downloaded some free software to automatically analyse the different frames taken which revealed, as expected a transit period of about 1 hour and 48 minutes. The data visualised into a photometry chart reveals, with no stretch of the imagination a dip in brightness. We are sure that if the experiment was repeated several times the curve would only get more apparent.

Light Curve Obtained during Exoplanet Transit
Light Curve Obtained during Exoplanet Transit

What I feel is most important about Schneider’s ‘discovery’ is that even though this particular exoplanet is a well known object, it proves that anybody with a camera and just enough knowledge can search for their very own exoplanets. I hope, no, I expect the first completely amateur exoplanet discovery to be made soon and I believe David Schneider will be able to take some credit in that.

h/t Petapixel via Spectrum IEEE