Luke Aikens jumps 25,000 feet without a parachute, into a net.

Here is Luke Aikens, the first person to accomplish a planned jump (and landing) out of a plane without a parachute or wing suit from a very high altitude (25,000 feet).

Jane Little, world’s longest-serving orchestra musician, collapses and dies performing

Jane Little, who debuted as a bassist in Atlanta on Feb. 4, 1945, at age 16 and who never stopped playing, died during a performance of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra on Sunday. She was said to be the longest tenured orchestra musician in the world. She was 87.

“We can say that Jane was fortunate to do what she loved until the very end of her storied life and career,” the symphony said in a Facebook post. “The Atlanta Symphony Orchestra was truly blessed to have Jane as part of our family for the past 71 years and we all miss her passion, vitality, spirit and incredible talent.”

“Her footprints are permanently etched on that stage,” wrote another admirer, Doug Ireland. “Everyone who ever attended a concert was amazed to see this tiny woman with that huge instrument!”

“Was at the performance today when Jane Little collapsed,” said a post by Rosemary Kord. “So sad to witness this tragedy. Happened in the last couple of minutes of the final song. I am still shakened and send my prayers to Jane’s family and to her musical family, The Atlanta Symphony. If there is a Requiem in her honor, I would like to be in attendance. RIP dear lady; you are an inspiration!”

The symphony was performing a pops concert called “Broadway’s Golden Age,” according to its schedule. A spokeswoman said the players were about 30 seconds from the last measures of “There’s No Business Like Show Business” from Irving Berlin’s “Annie Get Your Gun,” the encore to the concert when Little collapsed and was carried backstage by her fellow bassists. She never regained consciousness.

“She seemed to be made of bass resin and barbed wire. She was unstoppable,” bassist Michael Kurth, who was playing next to Little when she collapsed, told The Washington Post on Sunday night.

Kurth, 44, added that “I honestly thought I was going to retire before she did, honestly.”

“What an amazing way to go,” added Amanda Turner in a post on the ASO website.

The symphony did not provide a cause of death. Little had not been feeling well. She’s been undergoing chemotherapy for multiple myeloma, had missed the orchestra’s April concert in Carnegie Hall in New York, and told Russell Williamson, the ASO’s senior orchestra manager, during intermission at Saturday night’s concert that she felt weak and woozy. That night, violinist Ellie Kosek asked Little to call when she got home safely, which she did.

Little was not a physically imposing figure. She weighed 98 pounds and had battled through, in addition to the myeloma, a broken shoulder, elbow and pelvis in recent years. Last August, she fell and cracked her vertebra, leaving her unable to play.

But in February, after months of rehabilitation, Little took to the stage and passed the record set by Frances Darger, the Utah Symphony violinist who had retired in 2012 after 70 years of playing. Little took pride in her feat.

“I’d thumb through the Guinness book and say, ‘Wouldn’t it be neat?’” Little told The Post in February. “A lot of people do crazy things like sitting on a flagpole for three days. I just kept on. It was just me and the lady in Utah. So finally, I said, ‘I’m going to do this.’”

Though frail and injury-prone, the prospect of setting the record seemed to have helped keep her going, albeit not for every ASO concert. “I was competing with this woman out in Utah, who played 70 years, 69 of them with the Utah Symphony,” she told Atlanta Magazine. “When I heard she was retiring, I said, ‘I’m going for it.’”

“Seventy-one years ago,” Little told The Post during the intermission after a five-minute-long standing ovation earlier this year. “It’s hard to remember when I wasn’t here.”

By then, she had already said she would retire at the end of the season. Little, a widow with no children, planned to spend time at her house in North Carolina. Truth is, she hated the idea of walking away.

“She wanted to play,” Williamson said. “She certainly could have afforded to retire years and years ago. But this is what she did. This was her family.”

Little did not set out to play the bass when she first took an interest in music during the Great Depression. She wanted to be a ballerina, she recalled in an interview with Atlanta Magazine.

I always loved music from the time I was a kid. My aunt had a dancing school in Atlanta, and my mother was the piano accompanist. She played by ear; she could just sit down and play everything. I started dancing, and I wanted to be a ballerina, but to be a ballerina, you need to have these nice feet, and mine just weren’t right. So my dreams were shattered there. But I still loved music, and I taught myself to play the piano on my next-door neighbor’s piano. This was during the Depression, and we didn’t own one, even though my mother was a pianist.

Later, at Girls High School in Grant Park, I wanted to join the glee club, and I found out that freshmen had to take a musical aptitude test….I took the test along with all the other freshmen, and about a week later, I was called up to the orchestra room. I had scored really well, in the top percent of all the students. The orchestra leader asked me what instrument I played, and I told her I didn’t really play an instrument, I just wanted to join the glee club. She was shocked. She told me, you must play an instrument! You’ve obviously got the ear for it, and the rhythm for it.

She asked what I’d like to play, and I named a few small instruments like the clarinet and the violin. She said, “Actually, we really need bass players.” I was five-foot-three and weighed all of 98 pounds at the time, but she asked me to try it. She gave me lessons, and within a month, I was hooked. I loved it. It was awfully difficult to push those heavy strings down, and to carry the instrument around, but I just loved it.

According to her profile on the website of the American Federation of Musicians, “She struggled at first to hear the lowest pitches and could barely press down the thick E string — not to mention, even just carrying the bass around was no easy task. ‘I thought, ‘Oh my gosh, this is going to be a challenge!’ she says. ‘But I was back for the next lesson, and the next, and the next.’ After just a couple months of private lessons, Little was ready to join the orchestra — and not only did she join, but she was quickly appointed principal bass.”

While playing in the symphony, she met the man who would become her husband, Warren Little, who played the flute. Their first date was a performance by the legendary violinist David Oistrakh.

“’I must say that when I met Warren, I was very impressed that he played a small instrument,’” she commented in the profile, “‘so he could carry my bass around!’” He retired in 1992 and died in 2002.

There was no Atlanta Symphony Orchestra at that time. But there was an Atlanta Youth Symphony, for which she auditioned and joined in 1945. Three years later, that youth symphony became the Atlanta Symphony.

“It’s just mind-boggling,” Timothy Cobb, the principal bassist with the New York Philharmonic, told The Post in February. “It takes a tremendous amount of physical power, frankly, and just brute force to play in a big orchestra. I have had friends who have made it into their 70s but to be pumping it out in the orchestra is really something.”

Little took a fall last August, cracked a vertebra and was so weak and in such pain she could only practice for minutes at a time during her recovery. She was taking prescribed steroid pills to help her through performances.

Little, according to the ASO, played under all four of the orchestra’s music directors, as well as guest conductors including Igor Stravinsky, Aaron Copland, Pierre Montez, Leopold Stokowski, John Barbirolli and James Levine.

“To me, it seems like more than the end of an era,” Kurth said. “She outlasted every era of this orchestra. She outlasted three music directors. The next, most longest tenured member was here I think twenty years less than she was. There are no words to describe how remarkable she was. You think of superlatives and you just run out.”

There was great sadness among orchestra members Sunday night. There was also a sense that there was a poetic beauty to the timing of Little’s death, playing her bass during a performance of a classic from the “Great American Songbook.”

“Hollywood could not have scripted it better,” said Paul Murphy, the orchestra’s associate principal viola.

“For her to go out at the end of a concert, the golden age of Broadway, and it was during the encore,” said Williamson. “The words are ‘let’s go on with the show.’”

World’s oldest person dies in New York at age 116

The death of 116-year-old Susannah Mushatt Jones in New York City on Thursday leaves just one person on Earth who was alive in the 1800s.

Born about a month before 1900 began and when England’s Queen Victoria was still on the throne, Emma Morano is now the oldest living person. Incredibly, she still lives on her own in northern Italy.

On Friday, she was happy to hear the title had passed to her, one of her relatives told London’s Daily Telegraph newspaper. “She was told this morning and she said ‘My word, I’m as old as the hills,’ but she was very pleased,” Rosi Santoni said.

Morano was not able to come to the phone, the Telegraph reported – she is almost completely deaf. When the Telegraph reporter called she was eating a lunch of semolina with a boiled egg. She eats a raw egg each day, ever since a doctor’s recommendation when she was diagnosed with anemia at the age of 20.

Here is her story:

Name: Emma Morano
Country of residence: Italy
Birthday: Nov. 29, 1899

Morano was the first of eight children, all of whom have since died. One sister lived to be 102. In 1926, she married and in 1937 her only child was born, but died at a few months old. In 1938, she separated from her husband, Giovanni Martinuzzi, but never divorced. Until 1954, she was a worker at a jute factory in her town before working in the kitchen of a boarding school. She retired at 75.

When asked about the secret of her longevity by the La Stampa newspaper in 2015, she first mentioned her daily glass of homemade brandy.

But Morano mostly cites her eating habits for helped her live so long. “For breakfast I eat biscuits with milk or water,” she said. “Then during the day I eat two eggs — one raw and one cooked — just like the doctor recommended when I was 20 years old. For lunch I’ll eat pasta and minced meat then for dinner, I’ll have just a glass of milk.”

Sleep is another important factor in her longevity, she told the newspaper. Morano goes to bed before 7 every night and wakes up before 6 a.m.

Her physician, Dr. Carlo Bava, is convinced there’s a genetic component as well.

“From a strictly medical and scientific point of view, she can be considered a phenomenon,” he told the Associated Press, noting that Morano takes no medication and has been in stable, good health for years.

Italy is known for its centenarians — many of whom live in Sardinia — and gerontologists at the University of Milan are studying Morano, along with a handful of Italians over age 105, to try to figure out why they live so long.

“Emma seems to go against everything that could be considered the guidelines for correct nutrition: She has always eaten what she wants, with a diet that is absolutely repetitive,” Bava said. “For years, she has eaten the same thing every day, not much vegetables or fruit. But she’s gotten this far.”

When the AP visited in 2015, Morano was in feisty spirits, displaying the sharp wit and fine voice that she says used to stop men in their tracks.

“I sang in my house, and people on the road stopped to hear me singing. And then they had to run because they were late and should go to work,” she recalled, before breaking into a round of the 1930s Italian love song Parlami d’amore Mariu.

“Ahh, I don’t have my voice anymore,” she lamented at the end.

But even though her movements now are limited, according to the AP — she gets out of bed and into her armchair and back again, her eyesight is bad and hearing weak — she does seem to walk around at night.

“Her niece and I leave some biscuits and chocolates out at night in the kitchen. And in the morning they’re gone, which means someone has gotten up during the night and eaten them,” Bava said.

On her 116th birthday last year Morano received a congratulatory telegram from Sergio Mattarella, the president of Italy, according to the Telegraph, and a signed parchment of blessing from Pope Francis, which is now framed and hangs on the wall of her apartment.

John Beeden becomes first to row Pacific from US to Australia solo and non-stop

Beeden, who completed the 6,100 nautical miles in 209 days, said it was ‘10, 15, 100 times harder than I thought it would be’

A British man has become the first person to row solo across the Pacific Ocean from North America to Australia non-stop. John Beeden arrived in Australia after more than 200 days at sea, and said he had not realised the trip would be so difficult.

He set off from San Francisco in June and expected to take between 140 and 180 days to cover the 6,100 nautical miles to Cairns in north-eastern Australia. Bad weather slowed the 53-year-old down, however, and he eventually reached his destination in 209 days.

Beeden, who is originally from Sheffield but now lives in Canada, had already rowed across the Atlantic. According to his website, he took 53 days to cover 2,600 nautical miles, the second fastest such crossing on record.

“To be the first person to achieve something on this scale is incredible, really. I haven’t processed it yet … I thought I was going to be here mid-October and it was going to be hard work but just like the Atlantic – it wasn’t going to try to kill me. But it tried a few times,” he told reporters after landing.

“It’s been difficult the whole way but, in fairness, that was what I was looking for. I just didn’t realise it was going to be so difficult.

“I did the Atlantic three years ago and, although it was hard work, I found the actual process of doing the 53 days relatively easy, in a sense. It was just hard work. So, I went looking for something more difficult to push me to the edge.

“I have peered right over the edge a number of times.”

He told Sky News that each day on the water presented him with “some massive challenge”. He said the crossing was “10, 15, 100 times harder than I thought it would be”.

He said that the record he set was of less interest to him than the challenge of making it across the ocean.

According to the BBC, his wife Cheryl, who met him in Cairns, said: “He’s an amazing guy. He’s different than a lot of other people. He’ll always fight to get the mile when he’s having a bad day … He’ll always be rowing.

“Always knew he could do it, it just took a lot longer than we expected and just glad that he’s home and safe.

“He says he’s not going to get in another boat for a while, but I am sure in a couple of weeks he’ll be having some other adventure, and I will have to restrain him a little bit.”

She told reporters that her husband’s achievement was incredible, adding that she had been living with it for seven months. But she knew he could do it, she said.

Award given for world’s ugliest dog

A 10-year-old mutt named Quasi Modo, whose spinal birth defects left her a bit hunchbacked, is the winner of this year’s World’s Ugliest Dog contest.

The pit bull-Dutch shepherd mix and her owner took the $1,500 prize Friday night, besting 25 other dogs competing in the contest that applauds imperfection, organizers said.

And though the name might make you think of the Quasimodo character in the Victor Hugo tale “The Hunchback of Notre Dame,” this dog is female, not male as some thought.

Karen Spencer, marketing director for the Sonoma-Marin Fair, said she was notified Friday night by Quasi Modo’s owner that the world’s newly crowned ugliest dog is a she, and not a he.

Quasi Modo was abandoned at an animal shelter before being adopted by a veterinarian in Loxahatchee, Florida, according to her biography posted on the contest’s website.

Two Chinese crested and Chihuahua mixes named Sweepee Rambo and Frodo took the second- and third-place prizes, respectively.

An 8-year-old Chihuahua named Precious received the “spirit award,” honoring a dog and owner who have overcome obstacles and/or are providing service to the community. Precious, who is blind in one eye, is trained to monitor smells related to low blood sugar levels and alert her owner, a disabled veteran, of the problem, her biography said.

The contest, held at the Sonoma-Marin Fairgrounds in Petaluma, is in its 27th year.

The dogs are scored by a three-judge panel in several categories, including special or unusual attributes, personality and natural ugliness.

World’s oldest person dies at 117

Misao Okawa, the world’s oldest person according to Guinness World Records, has died at the age of 117.

Okawa passed away Wednesday morning in Osaka, Japan, Tadahi Uchimura, a local official from the city told CNN.

She left behind three children, four grandchildren and six great grandchildren.

Okawa was born on March 5, 1898.

Her family ran a Kimono shop in Osaka, Satoshi Yoshioka, an employee at the nursing home where she had lived since 1997 told CNN.

“She was a person with mild character, and loved to eat so much. Her favorite food was sushi and udon noodles,” Yoshioka said.

“She had eaten a lot of cake for her birthday last March 5. ”

“However, in the last 10 days she stopped eating. I think eating was her motivation to live, and when she lost it, she passed away.”

According to Guiness World Records, the oldest person ever was Jeanne Louise Calment, who died at age 122 in 1997.

Researchers break spinning world record

A team of researchers at the University of St Andrews have made it into the record books by creating the fastest rotating man-made object ever recorded.

Professor Kishan Dholakia, Dr Yoshihiko Arita and Dr Michael Mazilu of the University’s School of Physics and Astronomy, managed to spin a tiny sphere of calcium carbonate 600 million revolutions per minute (rpm) using optical tweezers.

The team, who are leading experts in light technology, used optical tweezers to spin the four micrometre diameter particle inside a vacuum chamber. As the light passed through the sphere the change in polarisation of the light exerted a small torque on the sphere, thus spinning it. The lack of drag and frictional forces allowed a very high rotation rate to be achieved -10 million revolutions per second, or 600 million revolutions per minute, before the sphere left the trap (most likely disintegrating).

Professor Dholakia said: “This has been an exciting team effort to realise this world record. The result is a major breakthrough in our physics understanding of the light-matter interaction. We are planning new advances and even hope to challenge our own record in the near future.”

The research was published in Nature Communications and now the feat has been acknowledged as the fastest rotating man-made object to date, by the Guinness Book of World Records, and appears in the latest edition of the publication.

More broadly, the achievement fits into the work of the team which looks at the interaction of light and matter including, potentially, studies at the boundary between classical physics and quantum physics.

70 year old man flies hot air balloon underground to set new world record

An Australian hot air balloon pilot succeeded in flying a balloon deep underground a cave in Croatia, a feat he believes is a world first.

On Sept. 18, Ivan Trifonov, 70, descended into Mamet Cave on Velebit Mountain in Croatia, and managed to come back up about 25 minutes later.

Using a specially designed balloon for the stunt, Trifonov was able to navigate the cave, which is 675 feet deep and 200 feet wide at the top. Instead of a basket Trifinov sat in a small steel frame, perched above twin
gas tanks.

Trifonov filmed the stunt from multiple angles and is expected to submit it into the Guinness Book of World Records. If accepted, it would be Trifonov’s fifth world record.

“It was very hard and I don’t think anyone else will ever repeat this venture,” he said.

Trifonov has also previously flown a hot air balloon over the South Pole.

Google executive Alan Eustace jumps 130,000ft from edge of space, setting new record

A 57-year-old Google executive is the world’s new space daredevil.

Alan Eustace yesterday traveled more than 25 miles up to the top of the stratosphere in a balloon and then parachuted back down to earth in Roswell, NM, at speeds of up to 822mph.

In doing so, Eustace not only broke the sound barrier and set off his own personal sonic boom, he broke the altitude record set by Felix Baumgartner two years ago.

For the record, Eustace hit an altitude of 135,890 feet, besting Baumgartner’s 128,110 feet.

“It was amazing,” says Eustace, who is also a pilot. “It was beautiful. You could see the darkness of space and you could see the layers of atmosphere, which I had never seen before.”

Eustace got help from a company called Paragon Space Development Corporation, which has been working on a commercial spacesuit tailored for exactly these kinds of stratospheric trips.