“We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win.”
John F. Kennedy
I saw Interstellar this last weekend – twice – and I think I have a new favorite movie. It got me thinking about one of my favorite topics…
I love space. Always have. Kind of wanted to be an astronaut (but then I realized my chronic motion sickness poses a big problem). I read every book in the school library on space when I was in the 4th grade. I follow NASA, the European Space Agency, the Mars Rover Curiosity, Space.com, and several astrophysicists on Twitter. You could say I am something of an enthusiast.
But the truth is, everyone should be! Not just because we push human discovery to new heights with men on the moon, rovers on mars, and probes at the outer reaches of the solar system. Not just because we learn more about our place in the universe as we see the beauties the Hubble Telescope captures and sends back to us.
In the end, the pursuit of exploration – the mere attempt to go further than man has ever gone before – expands our knowledge and increases our capacity for invention like nothing else. Agencies like NASA bring together some of the most brilliant thinkers and scientists to collaborate on extreme endeavors. And in so doing, a cross-pollination of the sciences occurs, and wonderful things are created.
Let’s just talk a bit about some of the blessings we have thanks to space exploration.
- ear thermometers (for newborns and the elderly)
- artificial limbs
- invisible braces
- scratch-resistant lenses
- concrete groovings for highway and parking lot safety
- enriched baby formula
NASA had been researching the properties of algae, hoping to find a way to create oxygen in space, and so discovered two essential fatty-acids (DHA and ARA) within the algae that are also in human breast milk. The researchers that discovered this went on to create an algae-based supplement now included in nearly every U.S. formula, as well as in that of 75 other countries.
- memory foam mattresses
- cordless vacuums
- cordless power tools
- freeze-dried food
- incredible water filters
So powerful it can turn Coca-Cola into water.
- capturing solar energy
- pollution dissolver
Can clean up oil spills too.
- athletic shoes/tennis shoes
- shoe insoles
- firefighting equipment – including light-weight breathing apparatus
- bridge & statue (anti-corrosion) preservation
Used most notably on the Statue of Liberty.
- improved golf balls
Can fly farther.
- lasers for heart surgery
- infrared technology for detecting forest fires
- long-distance telecommunication – satellites for cell phones, TV, etc
- improved CAT scans
- improved MRI
- improved mammograms
When the Hubble Telescope – sent into space with the specific mission to take pictures – was originally sent up into space, there was a problem: the lenses were blurry. So, while preparations were made to fix the telescope, scientists worked on some new programs to read through the fuzzy photos and divine the information there. This technology carried over into the medical realm helping doctors identify breast cancer more quickly, efficiently, and cost-effectively than ever before.
- joy-stick control for gamers (from the lunar module)
- hearing aids
Now these are only a few of them – there is actually a publication called Spinoff that comes out annually, cataloging the invention and application of NASA technologies.
So hats off to NASA and the many explorers that have gone where no man has ever gone before. We may not all be scientists, astronauts, or physicists, and almost none of us have stepped on the moon, but thanks to them, we have all had a little taste of what space can bring us. We all have been blessed by mankind’s exploration of space and beyond.
As astrophysicist Neil DeGrasse Tyson once said: “Ever since there have been people, there have been explorers, looking in places where others hadn’t been before. Not everyone does it, but we are part of a species where some members of the species do—to the benefit of us all.”
They are starting to put ads on our blog. We do not approve these and are not getting any residuals whatsoever, so I apologize for the content. I’ll see what I can do about it.