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 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