Friday, April 15, 2011

Sometimes "Low Tech" Is The Better Solution

For years, I have illustrated the fact that the simplest solution is often the best one with the story of how NASA spent millions of dollars to develop the "Space Pen", which would write in zero gravity.  Meanwhile, the frugal but wily Russian cosmonauts used a pencil.

Today I learned that this is an urban legend, and that the Space Pen was developed independently from NASA by a an pen manufacturer, Paul C. Fisher, in 1965. NASA did buy the pens when Fisher presented them, and while Russia did use pencils in early space missions, they ordered 100 Space Pens in 1969 and used them for all future missions. It seems that the flammable nature of wooden pencils and the loose lead of broken mechanical pencil points were considered risks which were solved by the Space Pen.

Left without my prime example of why "high tech" isn't always the best solution, I was lucky enough to come across a new testament to this fact:

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