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poisonedantidote's avatar

If there were to be a sudden explosion in human space exploration, would you suddenly be able to invent more things?

Asked by poisonedantidote (21539 points ) December 26th, 2012

I have heard it said that it is hard to invent things now days, because it has all been invented already.

While I don’t think this statement is fully true, I do think there is some level of truth in it, based on the fact that we make things we need, and what we need depends on our environment.

If human space exploration and travel were to suddenly become the norm, and we all had access to that environment, would it be easier to invent things again?

Do you have any idea as to what kind of thing you may invent?

(This question is inspired by a space exploration documentary, that showcased a zeroG sex harness, for astronauts to be able to reproduce in space without bouncing off the walls.)

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6 Answers

RocketGuy's avatar

More likely, new inventions will spur space exploration – maybe by drastically reducing cost.

PhiNotPi's avatar

Invention is goal driven. The mission to the moon created one of the largest leaps of technology in, well, forever. Pretty much every piece of modern technology was influenced by the mission to the moon, such as Apollo’s guidance computer. There was a goal: go to the moon. In order to accomplish that goal, humans had to invent and innovate a massive amount of technology. In the grand scheme of things, physically having a person on the moon in 1969 doesn’t really mean much. Rather, it was the decades of work prior to that event which will have a large impact on the future.

That being said, people aren’t going to be exploring space very much without the needed technology. We are going to need a large spurt of innovation before we explore more space. Likewise, nobody is going to invent any of the needed technology for space exploration until they know that there is going to be space exploration on the first place.

Here is the proper order of things:
1. Set a goal for space exploration
2. Invent the things needed for the goal
3. Accomplish the goal
4. Utilize the inventions for broader purposes, creating a huge technological leap across the board

Instead of just space exploration, this can apply to pretty much anything. The best examples happen to be those involving “big science.” One example is the Large Hadron Collider. The results of the experiments at the LHC will not have any direct impact on humanity for quite a while; however, humans had to invent some of the most technologically advanced devices on the planet in order to make it work. Even things such as the construction of the tunnel will have impacts on construction technology, such as the ability to build subway systems.

The_Idler's avatar

MORE BIG SCIENCE!

Give us money, and we’ll take you to the future!

The_Idler's avatar

Who else agrees that the primary concern of society (after feeding and housing) should be research?

RocketGuy's avatar

Yep, we still have to fix the environment and cure cancer.

dabbler's avatar

The key aspect of the space program that led to lots of invention, is the extreme nature of the technical challenges coupled with a straightforward underlying motivation (get humans to space and back safely).
I think pure research is great, but there’s nothing like a clear challenge to get the research mind focused.

It’s hard to tell if more space exploration now would produce inventions like the first waves. Current space work is often applying technologies developed elsewhere into modernizing space tech.

If we could get more strongly behind genuinely renewable energy research that might produce some remarkable new thinking.

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