technology transfer (Re: Standards in Artificial Intelligence)

Clayton Weaver cgweav at
Sun Nov 19 05:03:49 EST 2000

(off-topic in all newsgroups in the header, I note, but anyway...)

Two useful items of NASA technology transfer:

  Space Blanket:

Unfortunately the transparent substrate "evolved" into a degraded, fragile
material in the hands of capitalists. I distinctly remember testing a
sample of the original model that appeared on the shelves of outdoor
supply stores and being unable to poke a butter knife or a fork through
it. It sold for the same price as the one I got a few years later that I
destroyed trying to pull masking tape off of it. It still saves lives,
though, and it is light enough to not even come up for consideration when
deciding what to discard because your pack is too heavy.

  "Universal Wrench" (cam-head box wrench):

That was invented for reaching around a wall and tightening nuts/bolts
that you couldn't see. The roomy closed end made it easier to get it on
the hex head and have it stay in place without being able to see it
while you searched for it and tightened it. The cam operation made it
possible to only carry one wrench that could handle multiple sizes of hex
head. This may seem like a minor convenience, but replacing multiple
wrenches with one wrench is a non-trivial improvement when you have to
boost it into space on a Saturn rocket (or carry it in a pack).

Would these things have been invented anyway? Sure. The weight budget
of NASA projects merely induced their invention "right now" 20-30 years



Clayton Weaver
<mailto:cgweav at>

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