The manned space program has unarguably provided
mankind with many new and innovative tools, medicines, electronics, materials, physics,
appliances, and mathematics. Known officially as "spinoffs," products include items like the portable heart defibrillator unit, the
portable vacuum cleaner, freeze-drying food processors, powdered lubricants (e.g. graphite),
memory foam, quartz clocks and battery-powered tools .
Many NASA (National
Aeronautics and Space Administration) inventions have not found an application in your
basement or garage, however, because their purpose is too specialized. Take, for instance,
the ZeRT, or Zero Reaction Tool. It is basically a torque wrench that is operated by
one hand by squeezing. As the name implies, the ZeRT removes the consequence of
third law motion experienced when using a standard wrench. There is no need to brace
yourself against an immovable object when using it, since in space there is no gravity
to hold your feet to the floor.
A Plench combines pliers with a wrench (actually a ZeRT). It, too, is a one-handed
device, although it is of course possible to use the Plench as a standard pliers or wrench as
long as the user has something to brace himself against.
You probably guessed what a Plench was. Any guesses as to what a Spunfit is? A Spunfit
is a two-handed type of wrench made to hold a particular type of fitting on both sides.
That prevents the object to which the fitting is attached from rotating during use.
Did you know that NASA is guilty of inventing the term "Spammer?" The term was conceived
long before the Internet and e-mail was invented, and even before
APRANET. A Spammer
is a spring-loaded hammer. It is yet another tool that mitigates the equal and opposite
reaction thing brought about by Newton's third law of motion. The hammer peen is cocked
like a pistol and a trigger squeeze sets it loose. Clever, non?
There probably exists a long list of acronyms compiled by NASA over the many decades
of manned space exploration. Ditto for the European Space Agency (ESA) and
the Russian Roscosmos
State Corporation for Space Activities. Bureaucrats are really good at 1) Spending
other people's money, 2) Creating rules for you to live by but not themselves, and 3)
NASA Tech Briefs
is a free publication that reports on all the latest and greatest innovations. NASA actively
seeks inquiries by anyone looking to use their taxpayer-funded work for commercial applications.
I have subscribed to NASAS Tech Briefs since the 1980's and peruse every issue. It covers
all realms of science, including electronics and radio communications.
Posted April 3, 2018