Blog Posts


The Zen of Back Flips

Click here for Nate’s profile.

We’d never asked an interview subject to do a back flip before. But there’s always got to be a first time. And Nate Ball was game to do it.

Of course, Nate made it look easy. This is a guy who’s always in motion, whether it’s in his engineering work, his hobbies, basically his entire life. But what was especially interesting to us came after Nate did the back flip. He explained that doing back flips isn’t actually easy for him at all. In fact, Nate has to think about each and every step of the back flip just to survive the process….

Nate does a mean back flip

“So when I’m taking that first step, I’m running up to the wall… and I’m thinking, ‘Keep going to the left foot, keep going to the left foot, keep going to the left foot.’ Then I’m already pretty high up in the air, and I’m thinking, ‘Just keep going—kick the right, kick the right, kick the right.’ And as soon as my body has made that transition from running upward to flipping back, there’s this, ‘Yes, got it!’ kind of feeling, where you know you’re going to be safe—you did the flip… but there’s this feeling of pushing yourself like ‘Don’t give up now—or you’re in for it!’ kind of a thing, where you’re scared—you don’t want to crash. But you’ve got to keep going through with it to make yourself be successful… and not get injured.”

One step at a time.

Even for someone like Nate—the type of person who makes a seemingly insane act look insanely easy.

Now we’re going to ask all the other scientists to do back flips, too.

Check out Nate’s videos and then feel free to ask him questions in the post below.

(And we’d like to thank our own Laura Willcox for taking these terrific photos of Nate. He actually did this particular back flip in free space and not off a wall.)

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Tom Miller

    Tom Miller is the producer of “Secret Life” and co-editor of the site’s blog. His job involves interviewing scientists and engineers, getting them to tell their amazing stories and occasionally trying to get them to sing. It’s a fantastic gig and Tom is extremely grateful for it.