The Evolution of Old Age
Welcoming the Brand New Year 2012

Giving NASA Proper Credit

If I didn't write this blog about aging, I think I might write one about all the amazing, interesting things there are on the internet. Stuff like what I post in Saturday's Interesting Stuff and like this today that I'm indulging in because this is such a lazy, unfocused week. No matter what others - more scientifically informed than I – might say, I would mark the beginning of our modern technological era at just over half a century ago: 25 May 1961.

I am pretty sure most of us - the elders, I mean - can summon up from our memories the collective promise, hopes and dreams we had when President John F. Kennedy, in office just four months on that day, uttered these words at a joint session of Congress:

And we did it. By god, we really did it – in 1969. Well, NASA did it; we watched. I recall the thrill of seeing that fuzzy, black-and-white moon landing as clearly as if it were today. It was the most amazing thing to happen in my lifetime up until then.

I was reminded of all that a couple of days ago when I read a story by Matt Ryan at Lockergnome about what NASA and the space program made possible in our everyday lives. Remember Tang, that powdered orange drink you mix with water? I always thought NASA invented it for the astronauts. Not so:

“While it was made famous by astronauts taking it with them into space during a 1962 mission, various products were tested, including Tang. The company that can be credited for inventing this delicious beverage is General Foods in 1957.”

I also thought NASA invented Teflon but it was DuPont, way back in 1930s. NASA just popularized the product by applying it as heat shields so space ships wouldn't burn up upon re-entering earth's atmosphere.

However, there are other common products used by millions of people every day that NASA did develop itself or contribute heavily to their development. Five of them are scratch-resistant eye glasses, the joystick, the computer mouse, memory foam and water filtration.

NASA has also been instrumental in the development or use of barcodes, Velcro, even cordless power tools. Further, writes Matt Ryan,

”Firefighters use an improved breathing apparatus made possible by NASA, weather satellites are more accurate, and satellite communication is made possible thanks to the ingenuity of a handful of brainy scientists working at various NASA facilities.

“Next time you put on your glasses, play your favorite console game, or enjoy a clean glass of filtered water, keep the fine folks at NASA in mind.”

You can read much more about all this at Lockergnome.

You might also enjoy this interview conducted by chief Gnomie, Chris Pirillo, with the head of NASA's open source software development group that Ryan attached to his story.


At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Kris Scholz: Star Crossed

Comments

Golly!!! I remember seeing that video on the news. I also remember when this country had hope and sanity. I feel sorry for young people -- they haven't had a lot of either in their lifetime.

I remember the moon landing on 1969 very clearly. We had a huge going-away party in Atlanta that night as my husband, kids and I were moving to California the next day.

We were all a little tipsy that night as we crowded together to watch this momentous event on our black & white TV set!

Our hearts swelled with pride and we each had visions of living long enough to take a trip to the moon or Mars! Sorry to say, I'm not going to get to take that trip -- but maybe one of my kids or grandkids will! My high hopes of that night may have waned a great deal ... but it is still possible!

My aging memory may be wrong, but I seem to remember that the space program also brought us Corning Ware and that has made it possible for me to enjoy my glass cook top, thus eliminating those messy drip pans to clean.

I also think there were medical advances attributed to the space program.

The thing I most remember about the Moon landing was my friend from Switzerland who became so excited watching it on TV (and so irritated because he had to go to work) that when he had to stop watching it, he got in his car, hit the gas instead of the brake pedal and shot through the back of his garage.

Watching the moon landing those many years ago, how thrilling that was! From that landing to the shuttle program to the rovers on Mars, I've enjoyed every aspect of NASA's space program.

Recently I read that when the first humans head for Mars, they'll be on a one-way trip. It'll take a special kind of courage to say "Yes" to that challenge.

Meanwhile we Earthlings benefit from all of this exploration. Pass the Tang!

I well remember that night, too! I was on a Southwest Airlines plane, flying down from San Jose to LA after visiting my sister. We all stared hard through the windows at the moon, trying to see movement. The flight attendants poured champagne, and we toasted the astronauts. What a night!

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