Sunday, March 16, 2008

Adapted Technology

When I searched 'space inventions' on the Internet, I got a section of the kids zone of the NASA site. Initially I was wondering if I would find anything useful, but there is in fact interesting info over there on what has been adapted from space. Things on Earth based on space research is broad, as I have been led to believe, but what I find really odd is why so many technologies here are based on innovations made for space travel. These are quite obviously based on problems that would usually be mission and life threatening in space. For example, let's take satellite dishes. These, as seen in the site, were used for correctly interpreting noise when data was transmitted. Here, this would be needed for making some forms of wireless communication clearer, like on a TV when images are being sent at a constant rate. Noisy pictures and transmissions could make an incredibly expensive mission fail on account of the information being imprecise or just useless. We also use systematic redundancy in emergency equipment. As here, when emergencies rely on equipment that won't malfunction easily, space exploration requires systems that will not only stay intact in the event of a beating, but another equally tough backup has to be somewhere else and kick in if primary systems fail. A final example, plastics used as cheap, solid, and versatile materials were developed in space for dependable structures that weren't expensive and yet still reliable. Such plastics are now used often for containers of many sorts. In space, circuits were printed onto these plastics, provided with an effective base. Still, why weren't some of these things thought of on Earth, where the uses for all of these are invaluable?

Taking the expression that necessity is the mother of invention, it makes sense here. Though some of these inventions here are even saving lives, they aren't an absolute necessity to existing on this planet. They are all requisite, like others such as advanced imaging, wireless equipment and aerodynamic design on a smaller level for a successful and productive mission. Even if they aren't all completely necessary, it's reasonable to say some other things rode on the wave of discovery of space technology. This is possibly the greatest immediate benefit of space; we come up with technology that's excellent here, but would take a long time to come up with without pushing ourselves and finding it through a direct problem in space. If we were to find all those things easily just by thinking of them without space it would be great, but it doesn't look like such numerous, similar realizations come up without some sort of other problem we try to solve.

In other news, for all those getting time off due to spring break, it's over now. Depressing as it may be, another day or two off is coming up due to Easter. Thank you March! I hope everyone had a nice break (or just a nice week like any other), I'll be waiting through April and May for the part of summer with a lot of time off in it. Thanks for reading (as I always wish, if I don't ever actually write it...)!

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