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From Rocket Science to Firefighting: Why We Should Continue to Fund Science

The left image on the top is the vortex combustion technology, developed
by Orbital Technologies Corporation and NASA. In that technology, rocket
fuel is fed into the combustion chamber in such a way to create a swirling
vortex flow that improves the rocket engine’s durability.

So, what does rocket science has got to do with improving life on Earth?
Phil Plait of Bad Astronomy pointed out in his post "THIS
is why we invest in science. This.
", things we learn in science
can have real-life applications that are quite unexpected.

In this case, knowledge from the rocket propulsion system let engineers
develop a
new firefighting system
:

One series of tests using empty houses at Vandenberg Air Force
Base compared an HMA system with a 20-gallon-per-minute, 1,400 pound-per-square-inch
(psi) discharge capability (at the pump) versus a standard 100-gallon-per-minute,
125 psi standard hand line—the kind that typically takes a few
firemen to control.

The standard line extinguished a set fire in a living room in
1 minute and 45 seconds using 220 gallons of water. The HMA system extinguished
an identical fire in 17.3 seconds using 13.6 gallons—with a hose
requiring only one person to manage.

Phil argues:

In other words, this new system put out a fire more quickly, using
less water, and — critically — with fewer firefighters needed
to operate the hose. This frees up needed firefighters to do other important
tasks on the job, and therefore makes fighting fires faster and safer.

There is no way you could’ve predicted beforehand that investing
in NASA would have led to the creation of this specific innovation in
life-saving technology. But it’s a rock-solid guarantee that investing
in science always leads to innovations that have far-ranging and critical
benefits to our lives.

If for no other reason that’s why we need to invest in science:
in NASA, in NSF, in NOAA, and all the other agencies that explore the
world around us. It’s for our own good. And it always pays off.

Plus, you’ve got to admit, Space Shuttle launches are amazing!

Link
| High-Pressure
System Suppresses Fire in Seconds
by NASA’s Office of the Chief Technologist

Post Metadata

Date
March 22nd, 2012

Author
Stranger to the World

Category



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