'Mr. Spock’s death a reminder of life-changing scientific strides

'Mr. Spock’s death a reminder of life-changing scientific strides

I’ve always been interested in science, the future, and wondering about how the next great invention could reshape the world.

Television actor Leonard Nimoy, who died recently and portrayed Mr. Spock as the science officer on the original TV series ‘Star Trek,’ piqued my interest as a teenager in science and space, 'the final frontier.'

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I remember the TV show’s chief medical officer (Forest DeKelley) waving a hand-held device over an ailing patient and instantly gaining the prognosis. Just television…right?

Wrong.

The real device has been discovered. At the Irrigation Association annual meeting held last fall, futurist Lowell Catlett of New Mexico State University said such a medical handheld device - a Smartphone-type unit - had been developed by private industry. The unit can be waved over the human body to find cancer, its severity, and other physical anomalies.  

Some of the greatest science marvels over the last 50 years were delivered to mankind by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). Perhaps topping the list was NASA astronaut Neil Armstrong’s stunning first human step on the moon on July 21, 1969.   

In anticipation, my family sat huddled around the 12-inch black and white television as Armstrong, the nation’s instant hero, climbed down from the last ladder wrung to set the world’s first human foot on the moon’s surface. Armstrong then walked on the lunar surface for 2.5 hours.

Over the decades, marvels developed by NASA scientists include a wide range of inventions including scratch-resistant eyeglass lenses, anti-corrosive coating, water filters, and memory foam.

Among the NASA discoveries which have significantly changed people’s lives include a charge-coupled device which ultimately led to more precise tests on women who have breast cancer, and arterio vision developed at California’s NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory which today allows medical professionals to peer into a patient’s circulatory system to search for blocked arteries.

Other life-changing strides include: lifeshears which today allow emergency rescue personnel faster access to injured motorists in accident-damaged vehicles; advanced hearing aids called cochlear implants now worn by more than 200,000 once severely hearing-impaired people; and the insulin pump which eliminates the need for daily insulin injections.

With the many gains by NASA and the private sector, I think it’s wrong that President Barack Obama several years ago severely cut NASA funding - basically putting much of the U.S. space program on ice.

Science changes and saves lives, and in addition is bringing many new discoveries to farmers and ranchers – drone technology for example, and robotic unmanned flying machines, expected to reach the commercial market in several years, which will spray pesticides on fields and conduct other farm chores.

With so much to gain from science, we now have too much to lose. NASA funding should be restored. I believe Mr. Spock would agree.

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