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5 technologies you never knew came from space travel
With so much interest today in commercial space travel, you may think that space technologies are exclusively concerned with finding new planets to inhabit, like Elon Musk's mission to colonize Mars. Some think of space travel as a leisure pursuit for billionaires who've already been everywhere they want on Earth.
But what's less discussed is the contribution space technologies have made to life on Earth. Let's explore five of the most remarkable achievements enabled by space travel, which we now experience every day.
Is there mouse on Mars?
John Petalcurin – Pexels.com
We interface with computers today using a keyboard and mouse or trackpad, a convenience we take for granted. But in the early days of computing in the 1950s, computers had no graphical interface and only worked using command lines.
In the early 1960s, NASA funded Doug Englebart's experiments with different input systems to improve the way people could interact with computer screens. NASA needed advanced data input and analysis to enhance their space travel operations. Most researchers expected the winning device to be a light pen, but the technology that won out was the mouse.
The invention of the mouse wasn't the program's only claim to fame: project sponsor Bob Taylor left NASA in '65 to head up the ARPAnet project for the Advanced Research Projects Agency (ARPA), giving rise to the birth of the internet.
Cleaning up the stardust
Jarmoluk – pixabay.com
Wherever you live, you (hopefully) regularly clean your home. Today, your weapon of choice is most likely a vacuum cleaner. I prefer to use the handy cordless vacuum cleaner, another tech that originated from NASA research. The first device of this kind was the 1979 Black & Decker "Dustbuster," commissioned by NASA for its Apollo mission to be powerful enough to collect core samples from the lunar surface.
Satellites make the world go round
Pixabay – Pexels.com
We live in the communication and information age. At the heart of our global communications technologies are satellites – space-based communication we use every day when we make a cellphone call, use the internet or watch satellite TV.
Communications satellites are artificial satellites that relay and amplifies radio communications between a source transmitter and receiver in different locations on Earth. There are now about 2,000 communication satellites in Earth's orbit, owned and used by commercial companies as well as governments and the military.
Ponder this great innovation in transmitting long-distance data next time you upload a selfie to your Instagram. Beam me up, Scotty.
Navigating road, air and sea from the stars
Ingo Joseph – Pexels.com
When you travel by car, boat or airplane, there's one common technology you will probably use to aid your navigation: GPS (global positioning system), based on a satellite infrastructure.
GPS was started in '73 by the US Department of Defense, with the prototype space satellite launched five years later. It was initially used exclusively by the US military, but following an order from President Ronald Reagan, civilians started to use the technology for the first time in the 1980s.
And did you know that GPS is not the only existing satellite navigation system? There are a few more which essentially differ in their accuracy. The most common are Galileo (EU), GLONASS (Russia) and BeiDou (China).
Today, no more arguing with your map-bearing co-navigator about whether you took the wrong turn on the highway. The noughties saw the birth of a new co-pilot for drivers to spar with: the sat nav. Turn around when possible.
Improving lives on Earth with healthcare innovation
Anna Shvets – Pexels.com
One field of innovation, which benefits us all, is improvements in the healthcare sector. Thanks to space travel, we've experienced faster progress with pacemakers, laser surgery, diagnostic imaging scan technologies (CT and CAT scans), and robots for surgery and production of artificial organs and prostheses.
Suits with embedded biomedical sensors to study how the body responds to living in space led to the creation of a baby monitoring system to protect against cot deaths.
And the innovation continues. In 2019, the UK Space Agency funded Adaptix to develop a pioneering portable 3D medical X-ray machine, based on the technology used to study stars in distant galaxies.
Space technologies are benefiting industry right now. And there are many new space tech-powered business opportunities to get involved with in agriculture, logistics, mining and more. I'm looking forward to seeing what new technologies space travel will bring humankind in the future.
Ultra-fast gaming and the sports of tomorrow, with Break the Record's Fredrik Lidholt
Completing a game more quickly than opponents is the goal of the esport of speedrunning. It could be Super Mario, Doom or any other game. This week we'll see which elite players can break the speed record playing Minecraft.
Speed is the name of the game
The Break the Record Live Series is a live-streamed event where elite gamers compete to be the fastest ever player. Next week, they'll try to break the Minecraft speed-playing record. The brains behind Break the Record, Fredrik Lidholt (aka Edenal) chats about the future of esports with Marco Preuss and Rainer Bock in the latest episode of Unlocked.
Find out more about next week's Minecraft event here!
Intro to cryptoart and non-fungible tokens (NFTS)
A non-fungible token (NFT) of digital kitten art sold for 170,000 US dollars. These tokens could change how we buy, sell and own digital media. What are they, and could they build a new creative economy? To start, check out the video above from CNBC!
Is this the art of true ownership in the digital age?
Most of us can make a GIF, take a picture or record a clip, but what if you could sell those and other digital media for hundreds of thousands of dollars? With the rise of non-fungible tokens (NFTs), pictures, short clips of comedians, GIFs and every other form of digital art is now being tokenized and sold just like a physical painting.
What is an NFT?
Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) are a digital certificate of ownership of a piece of digital information that can be bought and sold. It works the same way as cryptocurrency: Secure transactions made between two parties recorded permanently through blockchain. The difference is, with bitcoin – a popular cryptocurrency using blockchain – you can trade one coin for the other and it has the same value, but NFTs are one-of-a-kind. Each NFT is unique and can have a different value.
You can make NFTs of almost anything digital, but the big news is they're starting to be used to buy and sell digital art, known as cryptoart.
Why NFTs can benefit digital artists and art buyers
Uniqueness has always been central to the art market. Digital art is hard to sell, and for buyers, hard to 'own' because of the potential for an infinite number of copies. NFTs could solve that problem.
For creators, NFTs are super trendy and therefore add to your enigmatic status, and they have a handy sell-on feature. If you sell a GIF using NFTs, you get a percentage every time the NFT is sold to a new buyer. Imagine Van Gogh selling a painting, then getting a slice of every resale, forever.
And if you're a buyer, you have a concrete claim of owning a piece of digital art. And speaking of buying, you might want to see this.
A world gone mad for NFTs
The best way to understand the NFT market explosion is to see some pieces that have fetched crazy sums. Brace yourself.
This Nyan Cat GIF sold for almost $600,000 US dollars.
Grimes - The NFT goldrush continues
This 50-second video by Grimes sold for almost $390,000.
Watch the video here.
Beeple - Authenticated by blockchain
This video by Beeple sold for $6.6 million.
Watch the video here.
Crypto financial and environmental impacts
Many financial experts have warned that this could be an investment bubble that, if it bursts, could mean big losses.And while NFTs are making the digital art world fairer, they come with a warning. The sale of a crypto art piece can use the same amount of energy in one transaction as an art studio uses in two years.
How artists can benefit
If you're an aspiring or established artist or content creator, no promises, but this could be big for you. First, prepare your work ready, whether it's a GIF, picture or video. Then, when you're happy with it, start on NIfty Gateway. On Nifty Gateway, you can apply to create a project for them to sell.