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8 Everyday Products to Thank NASA For

8 Everyday Products to Thank NASA For

We all know who NASA is. They put guys on the moon. They put space shuttles in orbit. Someday they’ll put people on Mars. But did you know they’re also responsible for some of the stuff we use in our lives everyday? Here is a list of things that you probably use on a regular basis but might have never known originated from the labs of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

Camera Phones

That selfie you took at the beach? Thank NASA for it. This little camera was invented in the early 1990s by Eric Fossum who worked for the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). At the time, NASA was trying to miniaturize cameras that were placed on-board interplanetary spacecraft that would be lightweight while also maintaining high-quality images for scientific purposes. Fossum’s solution was called the complementary metal-oxide semiconductor Active Pixel Sensor (CMOS-APS). As cell phone cameras exploded onto the scene in the mid-2000s, Fossum’s invention proved the ideal camera for small spaces. Not only was NASA responsible for the CMOS-APS, they are also responsible for digital photography itself, a concept that was the brainchild of JPL engineer Eugene Lally in the 1960s.

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The Dust Buster

While Black and Decker already had the battery-powered tool concept in 1961, it was NASA who fast-tracked the technology to put us where we are today in the world of cordless tools. During the Apollo missions, NASA required a portable drill capable of extracting core samples from below the lunar surface. They worked with Black and Decker to develop a computer program that would optimize the design of the drill’s motor to create the most efficient use of its power. It was that computer program that led to the portable vacuum cleaner we now call the Dustbuster.

Artificial Limbs

NASA’s continuous funding and research into the area of prosthetic limbs has led to some of the most technologically advanced artificial limbs ever conceived. In partnership with private-sector companies, this research has led to advances in robotics and shock-absorptive materials as well as the development of artificial muscle systems with robotic sensing and functionally dynamic prostheses.

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Transportation Safety

NASA researchers are responsible for a dramatic decrease in the number of highway accidents and increased safety in the areas of airplane takeoffs and touchdowns. The invention of grooved pavement on both runways and interstate highways have improved the performance of airplane tire friction performance on wet runways by 200-300% and have cut down on highway accidents due to slippery conditions by 85%.

Memory Foam

When you’re falling asleep on your nice memory foam pillow, think of NASA. This breakthrough material was designed in the 1970s for aircraft seats to minimize the impact during landings and improve crash protection for commercial airplane passengers. The open cell polyurethane-silicon also gave space shuttle astronauts something nice and cushy to sit on as they rocketed into orbit. Memory foam is also being used by doctors to support patients by reducing pressure on certain body parts. The material is now incorporated into several widely used products, such as pillows, mattresses, sports safety equipment, amusement park rides, and human and animal prostheses. NASCAR also uses it to provide additional safety to drivers.

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Solar Panels

Those solar panels that might power some of your homes and offices? NASA. In the late 1980s, NASA sponsored a 28-member coalition of private companies, universities, and other government organizations to create solar power sources. The union, called the Environmental Research Aircraft and Sensor Technology Alliance, was tasked with the goal of building a remotely piloted aircraft to fly unmanned missions at high altitudes for days at a time using a power source that did not add weight to the craft. The result of these single-crystal silicon solar cells was improved energy at a relatively lower cost and reduced pollution.

Water Filters

A lot of us take clean water for granted. Next time you take a drink of water, give NASA a thanks. The agency created special filters in the 1970s to ensure that astronauts had safe drinking water while in space. Working with Umpqua Research Company, NASA crafted filter cartridges that used iodine to clean water supplies from the space shuttles. The Microbial Check Valve, as it is called, is now an important part of cleaning water for municipal water plants. Recently, NASA has increased its studies in creating units that are able to more efficiently recycle human waste into a safe drinkable water resource.

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Scratch-Resistant Eyeglasses

It’s a great time to live for those of us who have to wear eyeglasses. Prior to this NASA invention, glasses were made of the easily shattering kind of glass, which wasn’t so great if you were the person behind the lenses. In 1972, the FDA required manufacturers of eyeglasses to use plastic instead of glass for lenses. Unfortunately, however, plastic tends to scratch easily. NASA scientist Ted Wydeven of the agency’s Ames Research Center then created a thin, plastic coat that would protect space helmet visors and other aerospace equipment from dirt and other debris. In 1983, Foster-Grant, the sunglasses manufacturer, commercialized the scratch-resistant coating.

Featured photo credit: Elle.com via elle.com

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Jordan Strickler

Owner, AgriMediaOnline.com

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Last Updated on March 13, 2019

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

1. Work on the small tasks.

When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

2. Take a break from your work desk.

Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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3. Upgrade yourself

Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

4. Talk to a friend.

Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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6. Paint a vision to work towards.

If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

7. Read a book (or blog).

The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

8. Have a quick nap.

If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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9. Remember why you are doing this.

Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

10. Find some competition.

Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

11. Go exercise.

Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

12. Take a good break.

Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

More Resources About Getting out of a Rut

Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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