The technology that brings us closer to the stars has more down-to-earth uses than one would think. These are a few everyday objects shaped by space tech.
“Come on, it’s not rocket science!” This is a common expression to refer to mundane, everyday tasks, or technology. You may hear it uttered when someone is having trouble working with a cordless power tool or phone camera. The irony of it, though, is that many of these everyday objects were shaped by aerospace technology, even when it wasn’t originally invented for that purpose.
When we think of memory foam, we usually think of particularly comfortable mattresses or shoe inlets. We rarely think of rocket ships. But this was memory foam’s original intended purpose. In the mid-1960s, NASA sought to find a solution for how to best make seat cushions for rocket ships. Cushions had to be able to handle the huge amount of G-force experienced by astronauts during take-off as well as the great variety of astronaut body-types. Their solution was memory foam that could mold to any shape and then return to its original state.
The original massage chair was invented in the 1950s to counteract the simple earthly issue of shoulder knots. However, one of the more recent massage chairs was inspired by the effort to counteract problems that only exist outside of the earth’s atmosphere. That is, the issue of trying to operate in zero gravity. As NASA researched the way the body responds to a zero-gravity environment, they put a name to what they called the “neutral position,” which is the position the body takes when it is relaxed in zero-gravity. In this position, the legs are elevated to the level of the heart. This position inspired the zero-gravity massage chair, which works by reclining to this position for deeper relaxation and massage.
Golf was invented in the 15th century. The first clubs were made of wood, and over the course of the next several hundred years, golfers have sought to create a better club. NASA’s technology has found its way into golf clubs in several different ways. For instance, when NASA sought to create a more durable metal for its missions, it created Liquidmetal, which is stronger than titanium while being more elastic. Liquid metal’s first commercial use was in golf clubs. Another NASA invention was a screw that wouldn’t loosen during the intense force of launches. When applied to the intense strike of the club against a ball, researchers found that the screw added the perfect amount of weight for an effective swing.
Although very few of us will ever become rocket scientists, that doesn’t mean rocket science doesn’t touch our normal lives. When you stop to consider all the everyday objects shaped by aerospace technology that we regularly come into contact with, you can almost say that there’s a little rocket scientist in all of us.
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