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SciShow Space shares four wonderful things that you probably use every day, all made possible by NASA technology.
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(Intro Video)

You may never have set foot in space, but you probably have come in contact with a lot of NASA technology in your everyday life. This is thanks to spin off technologies, inventions that were developed for NASA missions but were so brilliant that they became to regular folks like you and me. NASA has over 6,300 patents to its name and at least 1,800 of those have spun-off into spin-off technologies. 

So, you can probably find one of these where ever you turn - from your toolbox to your medicine cabinet. Here are just four of the more common things that you probably take for granted, but in fact literally took rocket scientists to invent. 

 First Invention

First: Cordless Tools, from Dustbusters, to drills, to garden clippers. The first battery powered hand-held tool was a simple drill powered by nickel-cadmium cells invented by Black & Decker in 1961, but it was not until the Apollo Moon mission that the technology was really perfected. Astronauts needed a light-weight drill to extract rocks samples from the moon, but of course there weren't exactly power outlets up there, and it is hard to imagine Neil Armstrong bouncing around with an extension cord. 

Black & Decker worked with NASA to develop a computer program that optimized their drill's motor. The new design reduced the kick-back from things being drilled, called torque reaction, and also extended battery life. On the moon, it worked very nicely, thank you very much. Now that basic motor design is in household tools everywhere. 

 Second Invention

Next, remember the last time you were really sick and when to the doctor? A nurse probably propped a gadget in your ear where it waited two seconds and then reported that you had a fever. Before 1991, these aural infrared thermometers did not exist. If you wanted to know how sick you were, you would have to wait around with a mercurial thermometer under your tongue or (points downward...)But, ain't nobody got time for that. Plus, mercury is hecka toxic, so why would you put that in your mouth.

So, the Diatek Corporation turned to the jet propulsion laboratory to examine the infrared technology it used to measure the temperatures of distant stars. They used it to create a thermometer that measures the infrared energy emitted from your ear drum, giving results in a fraction of the time of a mercury thermometer, while avoiding contact with anything that could cause cross infections.

 Third Invention

Third: Think about modern glasses and sunglasses. Not too long ago, eyeglasses were actually made of glass. In the 1970s regulators began requiring them to be made of plastic because it is lighter, safer, and it won't shatter into your eyeball, but plastic also scratches really easy- which sucks.

At the time, NASA was working on a different problem. Instead engineers were trying to come up with a new water purification system, and in the process, they developed a really sleek, hard new coating for the filters made from a compound of carbon and silicon. This stuff turned out to be incredibly durable and soon became used as a scratch resistant coating to protect all kinds of equipment, especially astronaut's helmet visors. From the dings and dents of flying particles in outer-space. By the 1990s, mainstream manufactures began using the same technology, and now almost all kinds of glasses use some form of it.

 Fourth Invention

Finally, one of the most famous spin off technologies began under astronaut's butts. In the 1970s, NASA realized it needed better cushioning to make seats and crash pads that could withstand the impact of landing, so it developed an open-cell plastic foam made from polyurethane and silicon that absorbed shock efficiently by spreading it out. But, the foam could also quickly spring back, returning to its original shape, even after being compressed to 10% of its original size. That temper, or memory foam, is now used in airplane cushions, football helmets, motorcycle seats, and, yes, those mattresses that let you jump around without spilling your glass of wine. 


So, think about it, in addition to missions to asteroids and telescopes that probe the distant reaches of the universe and space stations that conduct experiments in orbit, NASA is inventing stuff that helps you work, stay healthy, and, most importantly, keep your butt comfortable. Thanks NASA!

And, thanks to you for joining me for SciShow Space. If you want us to keep exploring the universe together, just go to and don't forget to go to and subscribe.

(Outro Video)