Author(s): Tom Cheshire
Meet the Piccards. Swiss, all over 6ft5, with high foreheads and leonine hair. Great uncle Jules helped build the first hydroelectric power plant in the world. Grandfather Auguste went higher than any man before him, to the edge of space, in a balloon he designed himself. And when his twin brother Jean-Felix bettered his record, Auguste constructed his own submersible and went deeper than any man before him. He held the deepest dive record, posthumously, for decades - until film director James Cameron finally beat him in 2012. Auguste's grandson Bertrand wanted to escape the family name and became a psychiatrist. He then became the first person to circumnavigate the world in a balloon. Now, like his grandfather, he's building his own vehicle: a solar-powered plane to fly across the globe non-stop. It might make it look like the Piccard family coasted on breakthrough after breakthrough. But they won their achievements as private individuals, without government support. And they were frequently ridiculed for their efforts (it was years before NASA adopted both Jean-Felix's and Bertrand's techniques). This is a remarkable story, not just about the extraordinary achievements of a family, but about the power of the individual to spur innovation, even when the consensus is against you.
With a foreword by James Cameron.
Tom Cheshire read Classics at Cambridge University, where he won the John Stuart of Rannoch scholarship. He is assistant editor of the UK edition of WIRED and has written several cover stories. His work has also appeared in GQ, WIRED US and Italia, Conde Nast Traveller, and on BBC2. He has spoken at Chatham House, BAFTA and the Apple Store. He is 25 years old and lives in London.