You can’t use a pencil in space. That’s the first thing to know about the Fisher Space Pen, and the reason for its existence, its persistence, and canonization in the history of industrial design and art pieces.
Because you know how zero gravity works, you obviously know that if even the smallest sliver of lead or wood were to break off, that sliver could become lodged into a control panel or an instrument, causing a problem nobody wants to have. You also know that a regular ballpoint pen wouldn’t do the trick either, because the ink in the pen wouldn’t naturally pull out of the bottom, such is the effect of zero gravity on any substance. Thus, the Space Pen.
Dreamed up in 1948 by a guy named Paul Fisher, the Fisher Space Pen was patented with the advent of the Pressurized Ink Cartridge, which are sealed, pressurized with nitrogen, and now coated in the kind of metal used to make—according to Fisher—armor-piercing ammunitions. Paul Fisher, in the 60s, ended up selling the pen to NASA, even though he didn’t set out to make a pen for space. He just wanted something that wouldn’t leak everywhere. And he ended up inventing a pen that can not only write in zero-gravity, but underwater, upside-down, wet surfaces, and extreme temperatures (-30ºF to +250ºF).
Since then, the Space Pen’s become ubiquitous in culture—not just in spaceflight, where it’s been used since the Apollo 7 missions. It’s been in the Museum of Modern Art. It’s been referenced in countless films and TV shows. And it’s been used by a bunch of people to write things in places other than space. Thing is: More people will be going to space soon. NASA wants back on the Moon, and to Mars. Japan wants to build space elevators. Maybe you’ve heard of Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos? They’re big on sending people to space these days.
So, if you’re planning on going to space—or know anyone who is, or simply want to send someone a hint: buy them this pen. It writes in space. Also, underwater – if the hint you’re trying to send them is “go to the bottom of the ocean and never return.” Or just: “You’re loved!”
Want more gift ideas? Check out the full 2018 Futurism Gift Guide here!
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