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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 September 16, 2019

How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

You have a deadline looming. However, instead of doing your work, you are fiddling with miscellaneous things like checking email, social media, watching videos, surfing blogs and forums. You know you should be working, but you just don’t feel like doing anything.

We are all familiar with the procrastination phenomenon. When we procrastinate, we squander away our free time and put off important tasks we should be doing them till it’s too late. And when it is indeed too late, we panic and wish we got started earlier.

The chronic procrastinators I know have spent years of their life looped in this cycle. Delaying, putting off things, slacking, hiding from work, facing work only when it’s unavoidable, then repeating this loop all over again. It’s a bad habit that eats us away and prevents us from achieving greater results in life.

Don’t let procrastination take over your life. Here, I will share my personal steps on how to stop procrastinating. These 11 steps will definitely apply to you too:

1. Break Your Work into Little Steps

Part of the reason why we procrastinate is because subconsciously, we find the work too overwhelming for us. Break it down into little parts, then focus on one part at the time. If you still procrastinate on the task after breaking it down, then break it down even further. Soon, your task will be so simple that you will be thinking “gee, this is so simple that I might as well just do it now!”.

For example, I’m currently writing a new book (on How to achieve anything in life). Book writing at its full scale is an enormous project and can be overwhelming. However, when I break it down into phases such as –

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  • (1) Research
  • (2) Deciding the topic
  • (3) Creating the outline
  • (4) Drafting the content
  • (5) Writing Chapters #1 to #10,
  • (6) Revision
  • (7) etc.

Suddenly it seems very manageable. What I do then is to focus on the immediate phase and get it done to my best ability, without thinking about the other phases. When it’s done, I move on to the next.

2. Change Your Environment

Different environments have different impact on our productivity. Look at your work desk and your room. Do they make you want to work or do they make you want to snuggle and sleep? If it’s the latter, you should look into changing your workspace.

One thing to note is that an environment that makes us feel inspired before may lose its effect after a period of time. If that’s the case, then it’s time to change things around. Refer to Steps #2 and #3 of 13 Strategies To Jumpstart Your Productivity, which talks about revamping your environment and workspace.

3. Create a Detailed Timeline with Specific Deadlines

Having just 1 deadline for your work is like an invitation to procrastinate. That’s because we get the impression that we have time and keep pushing everything back, until it’s too late.

Break down your project (see tip #1), then create an overall timeline with specific deadlines for each small task. This way, you know you have to finish each task by a certain date. Your timelines must be robust, too – i.e. if you don’t finish this by today, it’s going to jeopardize everything else you have planned after that. This way it creates the urgency to act.

My goals are broken down into monthly, weekly, right down to the daily task lists, and the list is a call to action that I must accomplish this by the specified date, else my goals will be put off.

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Here’re more tips on setting deadlines: 22 Tips for Effective Deadlines

4. Eliminate Your Procrastination Pit-Stops

If you are procrastinating a little too much, maybe that’s because you make it easy to procrastinate.

Identify your browser bookmarks that take up a lot of your time and shift them into a separate folder that is less accessible. Disable the automatic notification option in your email client. Get rid of the distractions around you.

I know some people will out of the way and delete or deactivate their facebook accounts. I think it’s a little drastic and extreme as addressing procrastination is more about being conscious of our actions than counteracting via self-binding methods, but if you feel that’s what’s needed, go for it.

5. Hang out with People Who Inspire You to Take Action

I’m pretty sure if you spend just 10 minutes talking to Steve Jobs or Bill Gates, you’ll be more inspired to act than if you spent the 10 minutes doing nothing. The people we are with influence our behaviors. Of course spending time with Steve Jobs or Bill Gates every day is probably not a feasible method, but the principle applies — The Hidden Power of Every Single Person Around You

Identify the people, friends or colleagues who trigger you – most likely the go-getters and hard workers – and hang out with them more often. Soon you will inculcate their drive and spirit too.

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As a personal development blogger, I “hang out” with inspiring personal development experts by reading their blogs and corresponding with them regularly via email and social media. It’s communication via new media and it works all the same.

6. Get a Buddy

Having a companion makes the whole process much more fun. Ideally, your buddy should be someone who has his/her own set of goals. Both of you will hold each other accountable to your goals and plans. While it’s not necessary for both of you to have the same goals, it’ll be even better if that’s the case, so you can learn from each other.

I have a good friend whom I talk to regularly, and we always ask each other about our goals and progress in achieving those goals. Needless to say, it spurs us to keep taking action.

7. Tell Others About Your Goals

This serves the same function as #6, on a larger scale. Tell all your friends, colleagues, acquaintances and family about your projects. Now whenever you see them, they are bound to ask you about your status on those projects.

For example, sometimes I announce my projects on The Personal Excellence Blog, Twitter and Facebook, and my readers will ask me about them on an ongoing basis. It’s a great way to keep myself accountable to my plans.

8. Seek out Someone Who Has Already Achieved the Outcome

What is it you want to accomplish here, and who are the people who have accomplished this already? Go seek them out and connect with them. Seeing living proof that your goals are very well achievable if you take action is one of the best triggers for action.

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9. Re-Clarify Your Goals

If you have been procrastinating for an extended period of time, it might reflect a misalignment between what you want and what you are currently doing. Often times, we outgrow our goals as we discover more about ourselves, but we don’t change our goals to reflect that.

Get away from your work (a short vacation will be good, else just a weekend break or staycation will do too) and take some time to regroup yourself. What exactly do you want to achieve? What should you do to get there? What are the steps to take? Does your current work align with that? If not, what can you do about it?

10. Stop Over-Complicating Things

Are you waiting for a perfect time to do this? That maybe now is not the best time because of X, Y, Z reasons? Ditch that thought because there’s never a perfect time. If you keep waiting for one, you are never going to accomplish anything.

Perfectionism is one of the biggest reasons for procrastination. Read more about why perfectionist tendencies can be a bane than a boon: Why Being A Perfectionist May Not Be So Perfect.

11. Get a Grip and Just Do It

At the end, it boils down to taking action. You can do all the strategizing, planning and hypothesizing, but if you don’t take action, nothing’s going to happen. Occasionally, I get readers and clients who keep complaining about their situations but they still refuse to take action at the end of the day.

Reality check:

I have never heard anyone procrastinate their way to success before and I doubt it’s going to change in the near future.  Whatever it is you are procrastinating on, if you want to get it done, you need to get a grip on yourself and do it.

More About Procrastination

Featured photo credit: Malvestida Magazine via unsplash.com

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