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June 13, 1931


JAMA. 1931;96(24):2040. doi:10.1001/jama.1931.02720500034015

Newspapers throughout the world recently gave to their readers the thrilling story of the successful ascent of Prof. Auguste Piccard and Charles Kipfer in a balloon to the height of 52,462 feet—approximately ten miles. This marks a new record in the conquest of the air and exceeds the best previous ascent, in an airplane, by several thousand feet. It involved penetration of the so-called stratosphere, the region beyond six miles in the upper air where there is perpetual Arctic cold, where the air is too thin for man to live, where there are no clouds, and where "stars shine by day in a purple sky."

The alleged purpose of the attempt was to secure certain data of interest to physicists. Scarcely had the feat been accomplished when an outstanding metropolitan daily1 remarked in its editorial columns:

Now that the world has heaved its sigh of relief at the almost