The Best Buggy Whip Manufacturer.
There was a time was this country made things – and (hold your breath) invented things. Now it seems like all we do is make money and trouble (well with regards to money, just a small minority, the rest of the world can attest to the trouble). Most of us struggle to just stay afloat in a country that is more and more just about moving money around. Manufacturing, which is one the very basics needed to allow a nation’s economic engine to thrive (see China, People’s Republic of) – is nothing but a shell of its former glory. Look at all the old factories being converted into super-chic condos in the old industrial towns of the Northeast. Look at the hapless travails of the once-mighty American auto industry. Steel? Garments? Television Sets? – virtually gone from the production process in the American economy. So what do we do instead – we manufacture financial products like derivatives and hedge funds – and move a lot of money around. Except even that is going overseas (or more likely underwater).
Outsourcing – the bane of the 21st century America, is not just limited to manufacturing — we are even outsourcing our ingenuity and creativity. I would bet half of all high school students couldn’t tell you what NaCl represents or think ultraviolet is a shade of lip gloss.
One of the great kernels of American inventiveness was the space program. What started as an unhealthy race with the enemy — who could get into space, get to the moon, control the skies first – turned into a healthy laboratory for invention, ideas and progress for America and the world. There always has been a lot of controversy as to whether or not space exploration warranted federal funding – that it should it have been financed as private enterprise. But for once a Federally run program actually made a plethora of stuff that is part of mainstream consumer society.
The development of space technology has helped create many medical advances, common household products, and business tools that we now take for granted. The first manned program from NASA – Project Mercury began in the late 1950’s and helped to develop blood pressure tests in order to ensure that ventures into space were safe to human health. The coating of satellites to protect them from small space debris – well that technology is now scratch proof eyeglass lenses. Nickel Titanium, a versatile metal alloy with strange shaping properties – is used to adhere braces to teeth. Without telemetry – the science of remote measurement – there would be no automatic monitoring for alarm systems, oil rigs, or chemical plants. Also no cell phones, cameras, remote radio broadcasts, or global positioning systems.
The Tempur-Pedic foam in beds, the Tephlon coated pans to fry and sauté without sticking and the microwave for cooking and reheating are direct results of products developed by NASA. Also daily used household products such as Ziploc bags, refrigerants, oven mitts, bakeware, and inhalers were either derived from or used within the space exploration programs. You have cable or satellite television – well that is another by-product of the space program.
What else? – the remote would not lower your garage door, a CD would not hold more than a song or two. Your sandwich would be stale by lunchtime, your soda would be in a cup and your insulated lunch bag would be brown and paper (in another words, not insulated). Tools were specially made for the moon landings – because the Apollo astronauts would be hard pressed to find outlets on the moon.
The material used to make space suits was used to make lightweight sneakers. Polarized sunglasses – thank NASA. Non-invasive thermometers to take temperature — an offshoot of how NASA astronomers determine stellar heat via infrared technology. Dimples on a golf ball – well they did tee off on the moon.
Water purification, gym equipment, bicycle helmets, ski boot parts, portable heaters and coolers, joy sticks for computer games – the list goes on
And of course Tang.
That is the practical. Then there is the grandeur and expansion of human knowledge. The wealth of information, data and facts about “how did we get here” cannot be discounted or disregarded. It was not intelligent design that gave us the following pictures – but a design of intelligent experiments and machinery that has allowed to finally see our neighbors in the Solar System with the Voyager, Galileo, Cassini, and New Horizon (which will reach the planetoid Pluto in 2015) projects.
Jupiter from Galileo – 2002
Saturn from Cassini – 2007
Uranus from Voyager – 1986
Neptune from Voyager – 1989
Yes there was a time America invented, created and made things, a time when America cared about learning and exploring, and a time when America was the envy of the world for our daring leaps forward in science and education. Yes there was a time, and it seems that time, which had been slowly slipping away, is under rapid retreat from the current management. In fact many of the policies our current government endorses takes science back to the dark ages. Without another burst of ingenuity and manufacturing in a very short time — America will definitely be the best buggy whip maker on Earth.