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Archive for March 4, 2018

March 4, 2018 — Roger Bannister, 1929-2018

Ovet the years, humankind has found barriers to breach and places to explore.

Christopher Columbus, for example, proved to many Western Europeans that the earth was not flat and that there was land on the other side of the ocean.

Chuck Yeager, back in 1947, exceeded the speed of sound in an aircraft, something which was thought to be impossible.

Seven years after that, a British medical student named Roger Bannister sought to prove that it was physically possible for a human to run a standard mile in less than four minutes.

On a windy afternoon at the track stadium at Iffley Road in Oxford, he covered the distance in 3:59.4.

It stood as a world record for a mere 47 days, but it was a significant milestone that Dr. Bannister reflected on with a certain relish during interviews later in his life.

“It’s amazing that more people have climbed Mount Everest than have broken the four-minute mile,” he told the AP five years ago.

Since Bannister’s breaking of the four-minute mile, there have been other barriers broken. People have been launched into Earth orbit, the United States have sent men to the moon and brought them back safely, and aircraft are exceeding not only the speed of sound, but even Mach 3.

But it’s been a while since such a broken barrier has captured the imagination of people the way that Bannister’s quest of the four-minute mile captivated post-war Britain.

Hopefully, we as a civilization have not found all of the boundaries that can be breached.