[FoRK] Losing my religion

Sean Conner sean at conman.org
Sat Feb 13 16:14:55 PST 2010

It was thus said that the Great Jeff Bone once stated:
> Let me offer one other anecdote about the brokenness of the system.  This
> is, of course, anecdotal to the point of being questionable folklore, but
> it's illustrative if not actually true.  Astronauts needed to be able to
> write in space.  What did we do?  Spent millions inventing the pressurized
> cartridge ink pen.  What did the Russians do?
> They gave them pencils.

  That's true, but not quite.  The US government didn't spend millions to
develop a pen that could write in space---a private company did, on their
own initiative.  The company that spent the $3m (if I recall correctly, and
this was done in the 60s or 70s) in research probably felt it was money sell
spent (publicity, bragging rights, "We have the *only* pen that writes in
space", etc.).

  And there's a problem with using pencils in space---graphite.  Graphite
powder is conductive, so sharpening a pencil could be a dangerous act
(causing a short, heck---who knows the long term effects of breathing
graphite powder).

  -spc ("Those how govern the best, govern the least.")

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