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 Newton's 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
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
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) Generating acronyms.
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. Subscribe today.
Posted April 3, 2018