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Courtesy of NASA

  • Jul 10, 2011
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As the space shuttle embarks on its final mission I thought it might be interesting to reflect on some of the benefical technologies developed by NASA over the past 50 years or so. I was shocked to learn that NASA has actually filed more than 6300 patents. These innovations touch each one of us in myriad ways each and every day. Listed below are some of the most significant.  There are valid arguments on both sides as to whether or not we should be cutting back our efforts in space right now. Those who oppose such drastic cutbacks will point to the accomplishments listed here as one of the major reasons why we should maintain some sort of presence in outer space.  But we will leave that discussion for another time.   Here goes.......
Cordless tools
When I was a kid my dad built and repaired stuff with mostly hand tools. Then came that first generation of power tools with cords. A big improvement! But as the complexity of its missions in space increased NASA needed to provide the astronauts with tools that were as easy to use as possible. Imagine life without cordless drills.
Smoke detector
Imagine how many lives this technology has saved!
Water filters
In our neck of the woods we are blessed with some mighty fine drinking waters. But there are many cities and towns across the nation and around the world that are not so fortunate. Home water filters and elaborate water filtration systems that serve entire communities are techologies developed largely by the engineers at NASA. For this mankind will be eternally gratefult!
Memory foam
Another technology we use in innumerable ways to relieve our pain and increase our comfort.
Scratch-resistant lenses
I have been wearing glasses since I was in kindergarden and let me tell you that this is one of the innovations I am most grateful for. Yes, you pay a little more at the beginning but coating your lenses with scratch resistant material greatly increases the life of your lenses.
SIRIUS Satellite Radio
Although this has not been the huge hit in the marketplace that everyone expected it to be satellite radio is nonetheless a huge technological advance with virtually unlimited possibilities.
Shoe Insoles
These days insoles help athletes to run faster and jump higher. They also help the rest of us by lessening the impact of walking on our feet and our legs.
Safety Grooving
From the earliest days of the U.S. Space program safety was uppermost in everyone's mind. One of the more recent innovations developed by NASA is safety grooving to help giant aircraft land safely and our cars, trucks and SUV's hug the road.
Kidney Dialysis
Think of how many lives have been extended for a significant period of time because of this marvelous machine. Once again, you can thank the scientists at NASA for this remarkable live-saving medical breakthrough.
CAT Scan
The need to find imperfections in aerospace structures and components, such as castings, rocket motors and nozzles led to the development of a medical CAT scanner which searches the human body for tumors or other abnormalities. At this point I would imagine that there are literally thousands of CAT scans done in the country every single day. Amazing!
While NASA certainly did not invent insulation it is responsible for taking this technology to a whole new level. Many residential and commercial buildings erected over the past decade and a half include insulation that was developed following NASA's lead. Superior insulation helps save on energy costs and is one of the cornerstones of the Energy Star's qualification requirements for building certification.
Invisible Braces
Teeth-straightening is less embarrassing thanks to transparent ceramic brace brackets made from spacecraft materials. Self-conscious teens are the main beneficiary of this technology.
I was a bit too old to get involved with the video game craze but yes the joystick was invented by NASA and was first used on the Apollo Lunar Rover. Of all of the inventions on this list this is the one I am the least enthused about.
UV Blocking Sunglasses
Once again the folks at NASA took an old techology that had been around since the mid 1940's and brought it to a whole new level. Chances are you own a pair of these high-tech shades yourself!

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August 10, 2011
So much for the people that sa,y "We should spend that money on things to help us here on earth."
July 15, 2011
Great idea for a list and a fitting tribute to close of the Shuttle Program. I had no idea about the invisible braces, but the other products make a lot of sense. :']
July 14, 2011
What a cool list! I had no clue that most of these list items were invented by NASA. Thanks for sharing :)
July 13, 2011
Whoa, I had no idea! That's a lot of patents. And I'm grateful for all of these inventions :)
July 12, 2011
An excellent list and very timely. It really is a shame that NASA won't be going into space anymore unless they hitch a ride with other countries. I hope and pray that NASA makes a comeback soon!
July 11, 2011
This review was well done and very informative.
About the list creator
Paul Tognetti ()
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I guess I would qualify as a frustrated writer. My work requires very little writing and so since 1999 I have been writing reviews on non-fiction books and anthology CD's on amazon.com. I never could … more
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