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Writing in Space with a Cheap Ballpoint Pen

michael posted more than 10 years ago | from the flic-my-bic dept.

Space 298

Roland Piquepaille writes "Some days bring big surprises. Like many people, I always believed that it was impossible to write in space with ordinary pens because ink would not flow. So imagine my astonishment when I read Pedro Duque's diary from space this morning. Pedro Duque is an astronaut since 1992. Now, he's on board of the International Space Station (ISS) since October 18, 2003. And he's writing -- from space -- with a cheap ballpoint pen, like Russians apparently always did: 'So I also took one of our ballpoint pens, courtesy of the European Space Agency (just in case Russian ballpoint pens are special), and here I am, it doesn't stop working and it doesn't "spit" or anything.' Isn't it amazing? This summary contains more details and a photograph of Pedro Duque on board ISS." Note that NASA didn't go crazy developing a pen for space. Surface tension is the important factor for all pens, not gravity.

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That reminds me... (0, Redundant)

jvervloet (532924) | more than 10 years ago | (#7299103)

on this (in)famous story about NASA's space pen [snopes.com] .

Re:That reminds me... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7299134)

Maybe because that's one of the links in the SLashdot story, genius?

Re:That reminds me... (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7299136)

You mean the same story that's linked from the article? Wow, you're a fucking genius.

Grow your pens (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7299106)

FP!

fp? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7299107)

from oslo airport oslo...

Re:fp? (1)

Ads are broken (718513) | more than 10 years ago | (#7299377)

You fail it, Norwegian knobgobbler!

And what were the first words written? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7299109)

FIRST POST!!!

Followed immeadiately by. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7299418)

YOU FAIL IT!!!

Sometimes there is pressure, I understand. (3, Informative)

Futurepower(R) (558542) | more than 10 years ago | (#7299110)


The ink cartridges in some pens is pressurized.

Re:Sometimes there is pressure, I understand. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7299144)

The ink does not flow by gravity, but capillar power ie it sucks :-)

A ball pen works by the ink paste adhesive power ie it sticks.

Re:Sometimes there is pressure, I understand. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7299157)

So why don't they work upside down?

Re:Sometimes there is pressure, I understand. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7299219)

Because the ink moves away from the roller at the top of the pen and surface tension at the critical point where ink is dragged onto the ball is lost.

Re:Sometimes there is pressure, I understand. (1)

Sique (173459) | more than 10 years ago | (#7299174)

Sometimes it's just something called "capillar force" (a side effect of the surface tension of the liquids, which causes liquids to get sucked into fine tubes).

Re:Sometimes there is pressure, I understand. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7299222)

Capilliary!

or is it Caterpillar force?

Re:Sometimes there is pressure, I understand. (1)

Sique (173459) | more than 10 years ago | (#7299247)

Sorry. In German it's "Kapillarkraft", and I just transcribed it into English ;)

Re:Sometimes there is pressure, I understand. (1)

Lars T. (470328) | more than 10 years ago | (#7299380)

Hint: Leo is your friend [leo.org] ;-)

I think this is the explanation. (4, Informative)

Futurepower(R) (558542) | more than 10 years ago | (#7299254)


The reason for using pressure in pens, it seems, is that surface tension alone may not be enough to pull a long column of ink through a narrow tube. If there is a little bubble in the column of ink, the surface tension is broken, and there is no way to pull ink past the bubble.

The problem of a bubble in the column of ink happens on land, too, not just in space. People deal with it by just throwing the pen away. Since cheap pens cost less than 15 cents, someone may develop the habit of throwing away pens without noticing what he is doing. If a bubble develops, it is usually after the pen has had considerable use, so there is little complaint.

In situations of varying temperature and outside air pressure, unpressurized pens may develop a bubble more easily. Pressurized ink cartridges are a little more reliable, and cost the manufacturer only a little more.

Re:I think this is the explanation. (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7299387)

I dont know about the US, but in India where we dont throw away pens that often (My dad believes that you should use a good "Hero" ink pen for life, and in general writing instruments are treated with some reverence), we just open up the pen, pull out the refill and blow into it. If even that doesnt work, remove the ball and the metal part holding it, blow air at back till ink comes out the other end and put the tip back on. Works everytime (remember to wipe ink off the hands and table).

Re:Sometimes there is pressure, I understand. (1)

swordboy (472941) | more than 10 years ago | (#7299413)

Right, but the moral of the story is that they don't need to be pressurized - the movement of the ink through the ball should provide a vaccum sufficient enough to draw the ink through the pen in zero gravity. Kinda like how you can hold fluid in a straw with a finger on top.

Oh no, another childhood belief has been smashed! (5, Funny)

Phoenix-kun (458418) | more than 10 years ago | (#7299115)

What's next? That astronauts didn't actually drink Tang in space? All those glasses of orange drink just so I could be like them gone to waste?

Another childhood belief has been smashed (0, Flamebait)

screwthemoderators (590476) | more than 10 years ago | (#7299365)

Apparently astornauts only ate "astronaut ice cream" on the first manned spaceflight. And US President is appointed by the Supreme Court, not by winning an election, not even of a "representative" electoral college.

gravity doesn't matter? (4, Interesting)

lethalwp (583503) | more than 10 years ago | (#7299119)


if gravity doesn't matter, explain me why you can't use a sheet of paper and a ballpoint pen on a wall for more than 5 minutes ?

Re:gravity DOES matter... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7299145)

You can't write on the wall because gravity DOES exist, forcing the ink down the wrong way. In space, since there is NO gravity, the ink isn't forced down and the surface tension of the ink helps it to "flow" (i.e. the ink wants to stay together so it follows its buddies coming out the ball, creating the "flow").

Re:gravity doesn't matter? (4, Informative)

BogWart (654802) | more than 10 years ago | (#7299147)

I think lack of gravity matters. In your upside down pen, gravity will pull the ink away from the ball.

Re:gravity doesn't matter? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7299185)

Because gravity is still in action on the ink when the pen is horizontal, at a guess. Writing with the pen held horizontally isn't the same as writing in microgravity - in microgravity the stickiness of the ink is more than capable of pulling more ink towards the ball as it writes, whereas with the pen held horizontally in normal G it still has to pull ink "uphill" against gravity towards the top of the ball.

Re:gravity doesn't matter? (1)

Eric_Cartman_South_P (594330) | more than 10 years ago | (#7299200)

Gravity pulling on ink NOT EQUAL to no gravity.

Re:gravity doesn't matter? (5, Informative)

angusr (718699) | more than 10 years ago | (#7299265)

(That'll teach me to check that I'm actually logged in before posting...)

Because gravity is still in action on the ink when the pen is horizontal, at a guess. Writing with the pen held horizontally isn't the same as writing in microgravity - in microgravity the stickiness of the ink is more than capable of pulling more ink towards the ball as it writes, whereas with the pen held horizontally in normal G it still has to pull ink "uphill" against gravity towards the top of the ball.

It'a another example of how nearly impossible it is to extrapolate what happens in space or on the Moon from our experiences on Earth - for more examples, check out Bad Astronomy on the Apollo "Hoax" [badastronomy.com]

Re:gravity doesn't matter? (2, Funny)

snipingkills (250057) | more than 10 years ago | (#7299290)

Because after five minutes you feel dumb and opt for a horizontal surface?

Re:gravity doesn't matter? (1)

Yarn (75) | more than 10 years ago | (#7299332)

Possibly because the wall is a hard surface? I used to use a concrete desk (it had a microscope on it, so it had to be heavy and immobile) and I couldn't use most ballpoints on that because the area of contact was low.

Re:gravity doesn't matter? (2, Insightful)

ajs318 (655362) | more than 10 years ago | (#7299333)

There has to be some force acting on the ink to get it to move at all. With a pen held upright, gravity and surface tension are acting in concert to get ink onto the ball. Invert the pen, and gravity is now opposing surface tension. At some critical value of g, the surface tension and gravity will be exactly equal and the ink will stay where it is. With stronger g, as on Earth, gravity will win over surface tension and the ink will be pulled away from the ball. With weaker g, surface tension will be stronger than gravity and the ink will flow normally.

Determining this critical value probably is the sort of thing likely to win you an Ig Nobel Prize [improb.com]

Re:gravity doesn't matter? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7299359)

You are confused.

Pens will work fine in outer space provided there is surface tension.

When writing on our desks, there is a gravitational force which pulls the ink down the pen.

When writing on the walls, the back of our pens are angled towards the floor, so after several minutes there will be no ink near the ball, hence surface tension doesn't matter. This doesn't apply in space.

moron the /. stock markup fraud execrable (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7299125)

selling your co. to the public without the hostage mandates of BearonStearno, GoldMineSacks, Gates0fHell & the other felonious stock markup execrable, may prove difficult/meet resistance from the whoreabull gangsters of wall street of deceit, but could possibly change everything, again.

as we know, the daze of the phonIE ?pr? ?firm? scriptdead georgewellian fuddite payper liesense softwar gangster stock markup fraud execrable billyonerrors, is WANing into coolapps/the abyss, at the speed of right.

seems to us, that coughing up dough for a search engine co., would be like some loan that should be repaid with interest, as opposed to some pyramid payper 'stock' (yet another nearly ruined word, tell 'em robbIE?) scheme, that leaves the public betting against one another, causing even more hysterical 'momeNTdumb'.

the lights are coming up now.

consult with/trust in yOUR creator..... that's the spirit.

One Word (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7299126)

Duh!

Now can we please go back to checking whether fingernail clippers would still work? Sheesh. The things people can keep themselves busy with.

Have you ever had trouble writing upside down with a ballpoint anyways?

Re:One Word (4, Funny)

tiled_rainbows (686195) | more than 10 years ago | (#7299177)

Have you ever had trouble writing upside down with a ballpoint anyways?

yes, I have. Or, as another poster said, on a vertical surface. Also, if I put a ballpoint pen upside-down in my trouser pocket, all the ink dribbles out and gives me a blue stain on my thigh.

Generally, I don't notice this until I'm in the shower the next morning, and mistake it for a big nasty bruise, especially if I've been out drinking the night before and can't quite remember if I fell over or not.

I'm still waiting for NASA to solve this problem.


Do they use these pens... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7299130)

to write their wills just prior to burning up upon reentry?

Yay (-1, Redundant)

The Old Burke (679901) | more than 10 years ago | (#7299132)

Now *this* is what I call valuable research.

Movie quote (4, Funny)

ArbiterOne (715233) | more than 10 years ago | (#7299135)

"We spent millions of dollars developing the Space Pen program. Know what the Russians did? They used a pencil."

Inside or outside? (1)

suso (153703) | more than 10 years ago | (#7299139)

Are we talking about a pen that would be used in the space capsule or shuttle or outside in a vacuum?

Yes, but it isn't over engineered (3, Funny)

harris s newman (714436) | more than 10 years ago | (#7299151)

I want a pen that has a help desk in india.

In soviet russia... (-1, Troll)

Kujah (630784) | more than 10 years ago | (#7299153)

In soviet russia, we use pencil. What happened to the millions of dollars spent on NASA's space pen that writes underwater and such?(I use mine for crosswords :) )

NASA spent $2.95 per pan for 400 pens (3, Informative)

cs668 (89484) | more than 10 years ago | (#7299212)

I guess in 1965-67 business and business leaders still had some integrety.

Fisher just developed the pens to be helpfull.

Of course having NASA use his pens was great advertising and did give them a great run in the comercial sector.

Be fair (4, Insightful)

0123456 (636235) | more than 10 years ago | (#7299154)

He's writing in a space station that's pressurized and kept at around 20C. The 'space pen' was designed to work in a vacuum in a temperature range of something like -100C to +200C, as experienced on the lunar surface: try doing that with a $0.50 plastic ballpoint.

Re:Be fair (1)

ShortedOut (456658) | more than 10 years ago | (#7299205)

Like they can write anything with *any* pen with those big assed gloves on.

Being tethered to an object traveling at 50K MPH in inner earth orbit, isn't the best time to be writing your memoirs.

Re:Be fair (1)

jpmkm (160526) | more than 10 years ago | (#7299304)

Speed is relative. As far as they are concerned, they are still and everything is moving around them.

Re:Be fair (1)

sydb (176695) | more than 10 years ago | (#7299341)

I'm sure that makes them feel much better as they watch the Earth spin off into space.

"Ha! I'm still here! All those poor humans on the surface of that planet, if only they knew that I haven't moved at all!"

Re:Be fair (1)

JohnFluxx (413620) | more than 10 years ago | (#7299337)

That's like saying try writing on a train travelling at 50km/h

Re:Be fair (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7299211)

like it is easy to write with space suit gloves anyway...

Re:Be fair (2, Insightful)

willtsmith (466546) | more than 10 years ago | (#7299223)

There is also a danger that the pen will break. Imagine the pain of trying to clean off the walls (& Floating) in Zero G.

Re:Be fair (1)

watzinaneihm (627119) | more than 10 years ago | (#7299361)

Oh well then you write with a pen inside the shuttle and when you have landed on the moon write with a pencil. Its not as if a broken pencil lead is going to fly off on the moon surface and hit a lunar goat in the ass
Anyway what sort of paper holds up from -100 to 200C ?

Re:Be fair (1)

Lars T. (470328) | more than 10 years ago | (#7299362)

Of course for those cases a simple pencil would have worked - which they couldn't use in the space craft because the graphite dust might float into the electrical systems. You have to be pretty paranoid to develop a pen that can still be used in your craft after (or even during) it lost atmosphere and/or insulation.

Huston, we have a problem. But at least our pen still works.

Re:Be fair (1)

laklare (204915) | more than 10 years ago | (#7299435)

I bought a space pen back in 1993 when I worked in a grocery store. I used it to write upside down inside the walk-in freezer (where i would sometimes be for hours). It never failed me until I failed it first (I accidentally put it through the washing machine). Best pen I ever had.

Amazing Technology (-1, Redundant)

AndyFewt (694753) | more than 10 years ago | (#7299159)

... When all you needed was a pencil

Re:Amazing Technology (2, Insightful)

hatrisc (555862) | more than 10 years ago | (#7299187)

would you trust your research to a pencil? i wouldn't. i'd have to write it in pen when i got home, so that when the pencil fades (like my physics notes from 3 years ago), i'd still have the pen copy.

Re:Amazing Technology (5, Informative)

ocelotbob (173602) | more than 10 years ago | (#7299234)

Problem with a pencil is the graphite dust. Normal gravity, graphite dust isn't an issue, it gets mostly on the paper, you don't worry about that. Now, in space, that graphite dust lingers, gets into things, makes the environment not as friendly to be in as it could be. With a pen, this is much less of an issue, as the physics of writing are a lot different.

Re:Amazing Technology (2, Interesting)

angusr (718699) | more than 10 years ago | (#7299296)

The graphite dust won't linger long; even in microgravity it's going to end up somewhere due to air circulation, static charge attracting it to something, or a whole host of other mechanisms. It's most likely to end up in an astronaut's lungs or in the air filters. It's not really a problem in either location (your lungs handle worse every day thanks to internal combustion engines and everybody's dead skin) but what is more of a worry is that graphite is a conductor. While dust is unlikely to cause a problem, a whole broken point might be enough to cause a short.

And that's not a good thing to have in an environment dependent on technology...

Re:Amazing Technology (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7299373)

So you'd use a chinagraph instead ..... that's non-conductive and quite tenacious. Though it probably is more temperature-sensitive than graphite.

Why not a felt tip? (0, Offtopic)

zakezuke (229119) | more than 10 years ago | (#7299165)


I can imagine your typical bic pen might have issues spilling out in the event you happen to have one not oriented in the right direction on takeoff.

the only time when a mother russia joke will work. (-1, Troll)

hatrisc (555862) | more than 10 years ago | (#7299166)

in space, mother russia writes you!

reading space, as it applies to newclear power (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7299167)

no need to be upset, change is inevitable. get ready to see the light.

ABC News
How Intense Solar Activity Can Upset Earth-Based Technologies
ABC News - 45 minutes ago
Researchers with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration have spotted two very active regions of the sun, one of which hurled a coronal mass ejection, or CME, into space and toward Earth.
Boulder researchers forecast a sizable geomagnetic storm Boulder Daily Camera
National Briefing: Science and Health New York Times
Journal Times Online - MSNBC - Standardbred Canada - CBC News - and 88 related

Re:reading space, as it applies to newclear power (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7299207)

I reported this yesterday and i was (rejected)

overall I have learned, dont waste time submitting a story to slashdot. if you are not a part of the "core" you do not get any submissions accepted.

Funny how I saw some of the absolute best northern lights last night and this morning and the asshats that were at the wheel of shashdot yesterday felt that it was not anything any of you wanted to hear about.

slashdot, news for slashdot, things that are lame.

David Bowie's new pen commercial (3, Funny)

bcolflesh (710514) | more than 10 years ago | (#7299175)

"Here I am floating in my tin can far above the world planet Earth is blue and my trusty pen is too!"

Re:David Bowie's new pen commercial (1)

humpTdance (666118) | more than 10 years ago | (#7299272)

Ground control to Major Tom
Take your Pilot pen; ensure the cap is on

Why wouldn't capillary action work in space? (5, Informative)

stankulp (69949) | more than 10 years ago | (#7299176)

It's not gravity that pulls the ink through the tube.

It's the surface tension propteries of the ink, commonly known as capillary action [google.com] .

Re:Why wouldn't capillary action work in space? (1)

millette (56354) | more than 10 years ago | (#7299263)

Capilarry action? I thought that was the force behind my hair loss!

Re:Why wouldn't capillary action work in space? (1)

watzinaneihm (627119) | more than 10 years ago | (#7299346)

No. Theory is all good, but practice doesnt support it. Just try writing with a pen upside down or the pen kept horizontally (stick a paper to a wall and write on it), I bet you cant go more than a page (I tried it just now, did not last more than 3 lines). So this means that gravity against capillary action, gravity wins. But probably in space, zero gravity, capillary action might be enough to pull the ink.
BTW: do the russians use smaller diameter refills? IIRC capillary force increases with smaller diameter, in proportion to dia to the power four or something. Of course you have smaller inkflow so compensating for the area it should be atleast diameter squared.

But pencils are still cool... (2, Informative)

thrill12 (711899) | more than 10 years ago | (#7299178)

because they have multiple purposes. Imagine an electronic wire broke within the ISS: Using a pencil one can at least use the conducing graphite to link the two parts together again. I don't see you do this with a cheap (plastic) BIC-pen :=)
Ofcourse, one can also break a pencil in two, and voila: TWO pencils, you colleague astronaut has one too now...

Third option, that a pen doesn't normally provide, is the fact that a pencil can be erased more easily without nasty chemicals. Easy if you want to wipe out the last log-entry in which you were a little drunk and have written down nasty things about the flight-captain.
When you need to draw a very fine line, one can sharpen the pencil to make it so. I don't see them sharpening a pen :)
Concluding: regardless of the truth of the "pen doesn't work in space but pencil does" story, it is still a much more versatile tool than a pen, so it "works" better....

Re:But pencils are still cool... (1)

The Jon (605125) | more than 10 years ago | (#7299240)

conducing graphite... ...one can sharpen the pencil

Always a good idea to have conducting graphite pencil sharpenings floating around a space craft.

The Jon (Serial number AGCTAGGTCAATGCTTCGAT...)

Re:But pencils are still cool... (2, Insightful)

willtsmith (466546) | more than 10 years ago | (#7299242)

Of course graphite contaminant floting in the air and sooting up the entire station is of no concern to you.

Regarding graphite conduction, I'm sure that it would make ANY part misbehave. It would be better to use the metal shell of a pen ;-)

BICs are cooler though (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7299281)

You can pop out the middle bit, stick some wet paper in it and hey presto - a blowdart gun!

Alternatively you could really piss off your fellow astronauts by putting the lid in your mouth and sucking, making a really annoying whistling noise...

My choice of office stationary in space would be a bottle of Tippex - hours of fun painting everything white then scratching it off.

One word: (4, Insightful)

chiph (523845) | more than 10 years ago | (#7299295)

Microgravity.

What happens to all the pencil shavings and eraser crumbs?

Chip H.

Re:But pencils are still cool... (2, Insightful)

Bendebecker (633126) | more than 10 years ago | (#7299329)

"the fact that a pencil can be erased more easily without nasty chemicals"
But it leaves all that rubber shit from the eraser floating around.:)

Finally, a return on our investment (0, Troll)

humpTdance (666118) | more than 10 years ago | (#7299183)

Is this why pens and hammers cost so much at NASA?

I wonder.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7299193)

what agent Mulder thinks of this? Scully surely thinking that this is just another NASA invention. But Mulder? He must be up to something. Could it be the [NO CARRIER]

Why don't they use pencils? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7299203)

When you have to write under bad conditions use a graphite pencil. Works under pretty much any condition, upside down, zero g, on wet surfaces etc etc... sharpening is out of the question but you can refill them these days so...

Some Astronauts.... (1, Funny)

Greyfox (87712) | more than 10 years ago | (#7299204)

Are easily amused. Oooh look at me! My pen works in space!

No gravity to work *against* surface tension... (4, Insightful)

aquarian (134728) | more than 10 years ago | (#7299208)

Surface tension is indeed the important factor, but what you're missing is this: although gravity is not needed for the pen to write, in space it's not working against you when you try to write upside down.

Morons: Try writing upside down (-1, Flamebait)

AbbeyRoad (198852) | more than 10 years ago | (#7299210)

If you turn a pen upside down you can easily see
that some pens work amd others don't


The ones that do you can be sure will work in space
since the gravity is opposing the flow of the ink
when the pen is upside down.


It scares me to think that no-one would consider
this simple experiment.

-paul

Re:Morons: Try writing upside down (5, Funny)

gnixdep (629913) | more than 10 years ago | (#7299283)

Pfft! who's the moron!

If we have the pen upside-down, the nib won't be on the paper!

Re:Morons: Try writing upside down (1)

Monofilament (512421) | more than 10 years ago | (#7299310)

having zero gravity is different than having the pen's ink being pulled the opposite direction of the way it is trying to be sucked towards (through "capilary action" as has been referenced in other comments).

and well some of those pens that don't write well upside down .. write like crap when you have them oriented correctly anyways ..

I sooo hate cheaply made pens (not meaning you can buy a good pen at a low price)

Re:Morons: Try writing upside down (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7299313)

Wow, you are stupid. There is a thing on this planet called gravity. The writing upside down witht he effect of gravity can be greater than the surface tension of the ink pulling through the tube. Since there is no gravity in space, the surface tension still exists, thus making the pen work. Your experiment does not factor this in, thus the people with brains did not do this "simple" experiment. Take your fucking ballpoint and stab your self in the eye. Not go suck off a sailor and get herpes. Assfuck.

Space exploration in full retreat (5, Interesting)

amightywind (691887) | more than 10 years ago | (#7299218)

Roland Piquepaille writes "Some days bring big surprises. Like many people, I always believed that it was impossible to write in space with ordinary pens because ink would not flow. So imagine my astonishment when I read Pedro Duque's diary from space this morning...

In the 60's we longed to use space technology to explore other worlds, and did a great job of it. Then we decided to make spaceflight routine and do great science on orbital space stations. They would be used as stepping stones to the Moon and Mars we were told. What we got is an expensive, perpetual, and feckless welfare program for the exploration of triviality. In the 30 years since Apollo we have answered such pressing questions as: How long does it take to get sick in space while spinning on a gyroscope? Can spiders spin webs in zero g? Can ballpoint pens work in space? With the exception of planetary missions, the current space program is a complete waste.

You missed the point entirely! (2, Funny)

screwthemoderators (590476) | more than 10 years ago | (#7299429)

Billions of dollars have been siphoned to US technology companies, to precisely those companies in the districts of the senators and representative who voted for this "feckless welfare program." It has served the purpose it was designed for quite well. Are you some sort of Pinko Commie or what? ; )

what i'd like to know (2, Funny)

IIRCAFAIKIANAL (572786) | more than 10 years ago | (#7299230)

is how he got it past security. Does he have a nail file to? Someone should lock up this terrorist! Somebody call Ashcroft!

As the old fable goes (-1, Redundant)

rf0 (159958) | more than 10 years ago | (#7299235)

NASA spent millions of pounds and many man years developing a pen that writes in space. The Russians took a pencil :)

Rus

Re:As the old fable goes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7299259)

From the headline:

Note that NASA didn't go crazy developing a pen for space.

There's even a Snopes link in there to the debunked story, if you were to actually click on it.

I've heard of not reading the article before, but at least try to read the headline.

fucking moron (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7299271)

read snopes once in a while, you pathetic follower

Re:As the old fable goes (1)

aszaidi (464751) | more than 10 years ago | (#7299328)

> NASA spent millions of pounds and many man years developing a pen that writes in space.

Must be one huge pen. How they ever got it in space is a wonder.

Oh, I'm sorry. Didn't realise you were British.

This Sig will self-destruct in 3 se....

Re:As the old fable goes (1)

Suppafly (179830) | more than 10 years ago | (#7299381)

NASA spent millions of pounds and many man years developing a pen that writes in space. The Russians took a pencil :)

Except that's not true.. It always fun to make fun of Americans even if you have to make up stories though I guess.

A little low tech (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7299236)

Don't they have a Zaurus each instead of pen & paper?

seinfeld connection (1)

millette (56354) | more than 10 years ago | (#7299243)

Didn't this remind anyone of the Seinfeld episode [tvtome.com] with the famous Fisher Pen [spaceflightnow.com] ?

old joke (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7299244)

I remember and old joke that basically outlines all of the time, money and engineering that NASA used to create a pen that could write in zero gravity.

The punch line was that the Russians used a pencil.

Who's REALLY Smart? (-1, Redundant)

Azzaron (562255) | more than 10 years ago | (#7299267)

I remember when the Americans invested over a billion dollars into researching a pen that would work in space.

The Russians? They used a pencil :)

Obviously not you... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7299282)

The amusing anecdote you "remember" is urban folklore. Read the last link in the article.

Re:Obviously not you... (1)

azzy (86427) | more than 10 years ago | (#7299349)

/.ers that read articles? Ha! just another case of urban folklore, they don't exist.

Re:Who's REALLY Smart? (0)

SirASCII (694759) | more than 10 years ago | (#7299327)

Apparently, who ever RTF2ndA, this excludes you. Looks like someone also deleted their java debugger registrar...

Pencils, anyone? (0, Redundant)

markom (220743) | more than 10 years ago | (#7299318)

Russians have used pencils for ages in their space research. It works in pretty much any condition. No ink flow...

Did you know? (-1, Redundant)

FictionPimp (712802) | more than 10 years ago | (#7299376)

hey guys, did you know that nasa spent millions of dallors on a pencil that writes in space and russia took a pen?

ISS held in place by gravity... (0)

f1ipf10p (676890) | more than 10 years ago | (#7299401)

I wonder does it matter which way he holds the pen?

The whole space station is held in orbit by gravity. The pull is still there, it just seems very weak compared to the "1g" we feel down here...

btw - Crayons should work too.

pateNTdead eyecon0meter reads between LIEns (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7299407)

that's right. after you get through all of the phonIE greed/fear based stock markup fraud ?pr? ?firm? scriptdead "news", you will note that the creator's planet/population rescue initiative remains in crisis mode.

you may continue to pretend if you want to/need to/must, but that doesn't help.

the daze of the phonIE payper liesense corepirate nazi execrable, is WANing into coolapps/the abyss. lookout bullow.

consult with/trust in yOUR creator... get ready to see the light.
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