Despite NASA's epic accomplishments last week — what with the landing a one-ton superlab on the surface of Mars with a rocket-powered skycrane, and everything — the haters remained out in full force, asking inane, vaguely trollish questions along the lines of "what's the point?" "why is NASA wasting money on robots in space?" and "what the fuck has NASA actually done for me lately"?
As easy as it would be to write these naysayers off as lost causes, sometimes it pays to go the extra mile and actually explain, in great detail, exactly what the point of NASA is, exactly why we're spending money on robots in space, and what the fuck NASA actually has done for you lately — because, quite frankly, A LOT OF PEOPLE JUST DON'T KNOW.
Top photo via NASA/Bill Ingalls
If you're like Jalopnik's Jason Torchinsky, enlightening these "imagination-less, dead-inside [jackasses]" could mean penning a blog post that explains, among other things, why robots in space are a great idea. But if you're too busy for that, WTF NASA serves as an excellent substite. It's a website dedicated to exposing all the technologies and innovations that have emerged out of research and development at NASA. Everything from applied pressure tracking technology (acquired from shuttle missions) that improve our ability to predict storms and hurricanes, to image processing techniques (gleaned from the Hubble space telescope) that have shown promise in detecting breast cancer in its early stages.
I'm sorry, did you catch that? An unintended outcome of the research surrounding the Hubble Space Telescope has been a technology that could be used in the early detection of breast cancer. And Hubble's war on cancer doesn't end there. A silicon chip originally developed for the Telescope makes the breast screenings less painful, less scarring, and less expensive than the traditional biopsy.
Need some more examples? Here, have a small sampling:
- NASA's Langley Research Center was instrumental in the creation of Speedo's hydrodynamic swimsuits.
- Lightweight collapsible wheelchairs? NASA's on it.
- A lifesaving heart pump, used to keep patients alive while they're waiting for a transplant.
- Ever heard of lifeshears? They're the handheld rescue tools used by emergency response teams to rip through metal car doors and other wreckage at crash sites, allowing them to reach accident victims as quickly as possible. They also use the same power source used to separate rocket boosters from a space shuttle.
So what the fuck has NASA done for you lately? Clear some time out of your day, have a seat, visit WTF NASA and educate yourself — the website is crawling with incredible examples. (Oh, and if you're looking for a safe for work version, try visiting What The NASA, instead. All the awesome facts from WTF NASA, with a little less edge.)