Wednesday, October 3, 2007

The cost vis-a-vis outcome of Innovation

Aerospace research projects especially space R&D projects have often been criticised for their heavy requirements both in terms of money/resources and manpower. Most often the space programs are being viewed as white elephants, which have hardly any use other than boasting the superiority of a nation . To a layman spending huge amount of money for a Mars mission hardly makes any sense. But if he calculates the overall outcome of a Mars mission, he has to rethink his judgement. The following link enlists some of the technologies which are developed for aerospace projects and have made their way to our day-to-day lives. Space stuff we use in daily life
There is a common saying that necessity is the mother of all inventions. But often an invention has its use in other areas as well. To solve a problem you develop a technique and that very technique can be employed to solve some similar problems. The problems might have been unsolved or being solved by using a less efficient technique. Internet was never developed to make us more informed or connected. Arpanet(the predecessor of Internet) was basically a defense project, but the solution has been successfully employed in other arenas.
As enlisted in the above article we have got joystick, microprocessor, micro-controller, ear thermometer, sportswear, smoke detectors, freeze-dried meals as the outcome of Aerospace R&D.
The basic point is that it is really unfair to chock the inputs to R&D and Innovation. We, the human race should move ahead with our space research and development programs, without caring too much for the immediate outcomes. In the long run we will definitely get rich dividends.

3 comments:

Trespasser said...

billions are spent to develop freeze dried food. With normal research, it could have been a lot cheaper. These are just spin offs. Of what practical use is space research?

Do you know that India is the only underdeveloped nation which is involved in space research

Soubhagya Ranjan Nayak. said...

Perhaps you missed the whole point. I would suggest you to go through the article again. You are missing the other benefits as well eg microcontroller and microprocessor. These are not spin-offs, these are alternate use of some cool technologies. By using the best brains in challenging assignments you are creating a knowledge base and capabilities that can be leveraged in other areas as well. A lot of companies including my old company Intergraph had been formed to assist NASA and now they are playing significant roles in our day-to-day life. When Intergraph built graphics engineering capabilities to study the surface of the moon, then ingr could clearly leverage it to plant, ship design and cad.
I do not think China to be a developed nation and they are spending more in both space and defense R&D. And you should not forget that you are watching TV, getting weather forcasts due to ISRO. You can not under estimate the usability of tele-medicine as well. It is a well known fact that Indian missiles have their origins from ISRO rockets and India needs these missile thanks a lot to Pakistan.

Soubhagya Ranjan Nayak. said...

With normal research it could have been a lot cheaper.
But these have been never developed via normal research. It was too tough to visualize such a solution in the normal research scenario.