Crystals in Space

Crystals in Space

Imagine a Dr. Mary, a young assistant professor of chemistry at the University of Maryland. Mary wants to combine a set of different molecules to form a crystal, one that she believes might offer unparalleled insulating qualities. Her problem is, her Earth-bound laboratory can’t produce the kind of perfect crystal that she needs to prove her hypothesis. Gravity has a tendency to distort the way crystals form.

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The Invention-Discovery Cycle

The Invention-Discovery Cycle

A new tool leads to new knowledge, which leads to a new tool. Over time, the cycle speeds up, first with a burst of creativity in Asia; then with the Enlightenment and the Industrial Age in Europe; leading up to the twentieth century and the invention of the airplane, transistor, and silicon chip. All of these inventions depended on the work of scientists. In turn, the scientists depended on increasingly sophisticated laboratory and field equipment. Throughout the 1900s, as the cycle spun faster and faster, the demand grew for ever more sophisticated equipment. 

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Private Industry Needs NASA to Help It Fail

Private Industry Needs NASA to Help It Fail

Private investors are beginning to inch into the market created by government investment of our tax dollars. Will this new industry succeed? There will be failures, just as there was during NACA’s long, patient investment in aeronautics. But there will be brilliant successes as well—provided NASA’s most active constituencies start working together to change the narrative. 

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