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Friday, February 17, 2012

The Spin Offs



A basic survival instinct has made us humans innovate over the centuries. Initially it was to protect against the ferocity of nature and the predators which lurked. As the human race evolved the aspirations changed and humans wanted to conquer the land, the sea and the sky. The kings had their own personal armies to further their agenda of annexing the neighboring rulers. The countries had expansionist agenda! The religious wars and jihads to promote the religions were assiduously pursued. I am not going to rant further on the war mongering but something unique which emerged from all these pursuits. It is about the ‘spin offs’ which emerged.

The earliest inventions were the wheel, a chariot and gunpowder besides so many more. We all know how the wheels of fortune turned with the invention of a wheel and one has to just look around to see what difference this innocent invention has made to our lives. No journey is complete without a wheel in the base of a machine or a steering in hand!

The father of mobile phones may well be Lars Ericsson who installed a phone in his car in 1910. When Ericsson wanted to make a call, he pulled into a town where phone lines were within reach, and used a couple of extra long electrical wires to connect to whichever telephone network were on the poles. However, while researching on the techniques of using electronic counter measures for jamming the communication systems in late 1980s, the birth of modern day mobile telephony technology took place, the benefits of which need no elaboration.

During the Second World War, in 1946 Dr Percy Spencer was experimenting in the laboratory with a magnetron being developed for the radar and he felt that the chocolate in his pocket melt. Not only this, when he got some pop corn kernels near it, he found them popping as he brought them closer. The modern day ‘microwave oven’ was born. Magnetron is still the key component of any microwave oven.

In early 1950s the Defense Advanced Research Programs Agency (DARPA) along with MIT, Boston developed a network for communicating between the computers. Further in 1970s it managed to send emails between computers engaged in defense research. Bill Gates laid the foundation of Microsoft in 1975. Thus, the foundation of modern day Internet and Computers was laid. A maze millions of computers hooked up on the World Wide Web constituting Internet has made our lives so convenient today and this is barely three decades old.

A ‘B grade’ movie actor Ronald Regan who rose to become President of USA envisioned ‘Star Wars’ to counter the threat of the ‘Soviet Missiles’ (Then Soviet Union). He discussed with the defense experts and got a huge amount sanctioned for ‘The Star Wars’ program in 1980s.It was rebuffed by many for a MAD (Mutually Assured Destruction) concept. In principle it meant destroying the soviet missiles in the event of their being launched targeting the US cities. The weapons like strong laser beams mounted on the pods and positioned on board space vehicles were to destroy these incoming missiles before they could enter the US airspace. The offshoot of all the developments in the arena resulted in development of ‘Satellite TV’, the Satellite communications and a host of others. Thanks to the dream of Star Wars, today we are able to watch the TV programs being telecast in the remote corners as well as able to talk to our near and dear ones on the mobile, make video call over Skype and so on.

 When Neil Armstrong spoke the famous words on landing at moon’ A small step for man and a giant leap for mankind’, he did not foresee the literal connotation coming live in today’s world.. A US company called Kangaroos patented polyurethane foam fabric with the help of NASA. It distributes the force on feet that happens while walking or running. The entire range of sports shoes currently available in market, make use of this technique in the production.

The water filters installed in the modern households extensively use the same technique of using activated charcoal base, as was done when water was to be carried by astronauts in the manned space missions.

Yet another worth mention is development of Invisible Braces made of a compound called Translucent Polycrystalline Alumina (TPA). This was developed at NASA while engaged in a project to protect infrared antenna of heat seeking missiles. It brings smiles to many a faces and does away with a mesh of wire braces on teeth.

The list is endless and the pace of research in the various laboratories around the world goes on at a break neck speed to improve the lives while more lethal weapons get developed to annihilate the mankind. It is strange that creation and destruction go hand in hand just like it is portrayed in the Hindu philosophy of Tridev (The trio of god), Brahma( The Creator), Vishnu( The Sustainer) and Mahesh( The Destroyer)

The future doesn't belong to the fainthearted; it belongs to the brave... 

PS- Image Kind courtesy Google
I wish to thank young Izdiher from Pakistan for conferring The Enchanted Blog award on 14 Feb 12. A sincere thanks for her kind gesture.

53 comments:

  1. You are a wealth of information! Thank you, once again, for teaching me, Professor Rahul :) So, Bill Gates started in 1975 ~ interesting to know! Congrats on your recent award! You are more than worthy of receiving every one you've earned {|:)

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    1. Thanks Fiona! Just thought of sharing some things I read in all the years:)

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  2. P.S. ~ I loved the image! Great artwork!

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  3. Ah, such good information. Indeed, innovation is the key to the future.

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    1. Sure Rachna! Coming from an innovative person like you,it is a big compliment:) BTW I am registered on your site! Remarkable innovation!

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  4. Sir, please continue to write such posts. My GK has increased today. I learnt something from your post in which you wrote about what happens when a ship sinks (in relation to the news of captain who abandoned the sinking ship)

    On a lighter note, I love Bill Gates. He is one reason we all are blogging...:)

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    1. Even if I have to just write for you, I will :) A sincere thanks for those kind words... Indeed without Bill Gates this world would have been different..

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  5. I honestly did NOT want this post to end- I was finding out so much information I didn't know...Lars Ericsson was a clever guy- and so early in time, he had this idea! No wonder some of the phones I have used bear his name :)...and yes, the original mobile ...oh my, I didn't realize it was not that long ago!!! Do you remember when they first came out how HUGE they were...ha ha!!

    So much of these innovations have taken place within my life time- I'm just shaking my head. And to see how many of them were linked to NASA and the experiments and various things they worked on. So many contributions to life- we never even realized where they came from.

    Please do write more posts like this- MOST ENJOYABLE!!!!! (and educational)

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    1. Anjuli, I bow my head to readers like you who find things so interesting:)Yes, I too carried a bulky mobile more than a decade ago:) BTW I now work in Lars Ericsson's company...:)

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  6. The post was so interesting. And full of information...There are so many things I didn't know.. Thanks for sharing such awesome and interesting facts of mankind.. yeah what you said is true creation and destruction go hand in hand..I simply loved the post.. Keep writing such post.. :D

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    1. You made my day with those lovely remarks, Single Girl:) I will surely try to live to your expectations:)

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  7. Thank goodness for pioneers and inventors!

    Great post.

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    1. Lady Fi, I try to write , but have a long way to catch up with your photography skills:)Thanks a lot!

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  8. very informative..have to keep coming here..nice blog sir..and thanks

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    1. Welcome to my blog, Ramesh!I am honored with your kind compliment!

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  9. Wow!...This post is full of information...Your explanation is very lively and interesting :)

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  10. i was like, "wow Sir knows so much." Not that i doubted it ever but you know this post had such a lot of interesting information about the products we use/the inventions and the inventors we have long forgotten. it was really good to read all this

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    1. Sujatha, I am lucky to have a reader like you who being so learned herself, has showered so much praise:)Yes we have so many things around us and each has an interesting story behind!

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  11. Really didnt know so many things...very informative post. :)

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    1. Thanks Ria, for being so kind to read this!

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  12. Extremely informative post, Rahul. I learnt lots from it :)

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    1. A deep gratitude, Rachna for those words!

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  14. I feel so much more 'educated' after reading your blog posts! I think if you're not already in the university professor/academic field, you really should be. Students would have so much to learn from you!

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    1. Sam, you are so sweet to lap up what I write. I did teach for a while, while pursuing my career in the Navy and even subsequently. Thanks a lot!

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  15. Only the brave....I love reading your blog 'cause I am always learning something from you!!
    Don't Call Me Fashion Blogger
    Facebook
    Bloglovin'

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    1. Francesca, this feeling is mutual as I learn about the fashion world from likes of you!

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  16. I can not go away from your blog with out learning something..This is a great post! One of the earliest invention the wheel also puts in a lot of optimism for life in general.. what goes down will come up :-)

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    1. Thanks a lot Padmaja for those kind words! I too enjoy your art works, just likewise:)

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  17. Wow..I had no idea about so many things...I just looked at the end product , never really thought of what prompted them to invent things..:) Very informative read!!

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    1. Thanks Natasha,that you found this informative:)

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  18. Oh my God! Such an informational read!
    Personally I run away where ever I see Einstein images floating around, but this one did attract me! :)

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    1. Thanks Akriti, for your generosity in reading despite Einstein's picture:)

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  19. Many things I got to know form this post. Brilliant write up, Sir :)

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    1. Thanks Shreya, that you could steal time from your busy routine to read:)

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  20. Anything for reading & writing, Sir :)

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  21. It is really good when one gains information and knowledge in the process of reading a blog. Brilliant post, sir :)

    And congrats for the award. :)

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    1. Thanks a lot Vinati!I am happy you could take time off to read ..Congratulations to you as well for the recent awards:)

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  22. Following your updates is great for me as it provides me with a wealth of information without "Googling" :D

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    1. Thanks a lot Binu!Am happy that you found it interesting:)

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  23. That is a lot of information. Good read!

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  24. Yeah, most innovations have changed the face of the world! Would we be sharing these thoughts if not for ARPA?

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    1. So true Insignia!But for these developments this world would have been all together different:)

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  25. Didnot know about so many things!! Amazed and so truly said, the future is for the brave!

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  26. Thanks Jenny!I am happy you found this one informative:)

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  27. That was really informative Sir. There were so many things I was completely unaware of. ANd yes, everything goes Hand in Hand, don't they, The Creator, the Preserver, and the Destroyer!

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  28. Thanks a lot Ashwini:) Happy that you liked this post and found it informative!

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  29. Loved reading your informative post! Creativity is a happy mistake. It highlights the importance of chance and play.

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    1. Thanks a lot!Agree with what you say:)

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