Hello Reddit! By now you know me as the inventor of the Super Soaker, but before that I had inventions on the Galileo Mission to Jupiter, Cassini Mission to Saturn, and Mars Observer Mission. I just recently received my 138th patent from the USPTO.

This past month has been very busy for me:

I turned 69.

My robot that I made for (and which won) the regional science fair in 1968 celebrated its 50th anniversary.

We began 2 exciting new contracts for development of my battery and engine technologies. One of those contracts is with NASA and I’m very excited for my technology to return to space.

My nonprofit, the Johnson STEM Activity Center, officially received 501c3 status and partnered with the Forever Young Foundation to bring their latest 8-80 Zone into my facility in downtown Atlanta for a ribbon cutting during the Super Bowl in February.

Artists from around all over the city came to help create a 100 foot STEM mural on the side of our building that looks fantastic!

I started using twitter to keep everyone up to date on the things I’m doing. If you feel so inclined, you can follow me @LonnieGJohnson and of course here on Reddit at u/Iinex I had a few u/Biography_Official cameras have me explain what the Super Soaker and the B-2 Stealth Bomber Have in Common - watch here! Just last week, I talked about my inventions, race, and saving the planet with u/endless_thread, the podcast made by WBUR in partnership with Reddit! You can listen to the episode here.

This is my 2nd Ask Me Anything (https://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/6gacna/i_am_lonnie_johnson_inventor_of_the_super_soaker/) and I’m just as excited to answer your questions!

Proof: https://i.redd.it/3x28dh7f6dw11.jpg

EDIT:

I really enjoyed this. Thanks, guys, for tuning in. I'll try to jump back in later to answer some follow-up questions Bye!

EDIT 2:

Happy Election Day. I'm here to answer a few more questions. If you haven't already, GO VOTE!

EDIT 3:

Sorry I couldn't get to everyone, but I hope I covered most topic areas. Thanks again for your very intellectually stimulating questions. Keep pressing forward to a promising future. AND GO VOTE!

Comments: 354 • Responses: 50  • Date: 

linklolthe3312 karma

Who was the first person you squirted with the super soaker?

Iinex791 karma

I don't actually remember the first person I squirted. You know I remember the first time I shot the gun and I gave it to my daughter and let her play with it. But I think the first memorable person was actually when I was at an office function when I was in the air force and my coworkers were there. I was a captain in the military at the time and this major who outranked me saw me holding the gun and said "captain what is that?" I said "it is my water gun sir" and he said "does it work?" I said "Yes, sir" and I turned and shot him right between the eyes. It was hilarious. Of course after that the whole picnic turned into a riot we were throwing water beer from cups and everything it was a great ice breaker we had a great time.

Would love to remember his name

Edit: fixing typos

bagels98253 karma

You are a bit of a hero in our house due to the children's book about you! How old were you when you made your first robot? Any advice for kids that are aspiring inventors?

Iinex291 karma

My advice for kids who are inspiring inventors is to persevere. Don't give up your visions and the things that you want to make sometimes only you can see them. Only you can realize what potential impact it could have. When I built my first robot it was with an erector set and I think I may have been about 6 years old at the time.

NEzZen5991208 karma

What’s your favorite invention besides the super soaker?

Iinex395 karma

That is like asking what is my favorite child, haha. Actually, I have a hard time choosing. I can say that there are five or four top highlights: my robot that I built when I was in high school, of course, was a game changer for me. The Super Soaker, the Nerf dart guns, my invention on the Galileo spacecraft, the lithium battery technology that I'm developing right now, the solid state batteries as well as the lithium fuel cells. And of course, the heat engine - my engine that converts heat directly into electricity without any moving mechanical parts. So those are the things that are highlights. I can't say one is my favorite because they all have had dramatic impacts on my life.

rkgk13118 karma

What's your invention process like? Is the old adage "necessity is the mother of invention" true? Or is it a matter of having some Eureka! moments and chasing them?

Iinex147 karma

Actually there's a little bit of both. I just mentioned in my response to the last question that need indeed is the mother of invention. Solving a problem I think is very important and improving the life of humanity, sometimes when I'm talking to people about inventing if it wasn't for ideas that humans have things that people come up with we'd all still be living in caves.

MyPostsAreHalal111 karma

Do you think that climate change is stoppable or can we at least mitigate the damage?

Iinex226 karma

That’s a very good question. You know often I look at the problem and I think to myself "have we gone too far already?" I think in terms of physics, physical phenomena, there’s this thing called tipping point where you know if, for example you try and balance a stick if you leans just a-little to one side, or the other all of a sudden it falls over but if you keep it balanced it will stay up. So if you get things tipped over to the wrong side it tends to accelerate, for example the polar ice caps as they start to melt and instead of having the white ice or snow covered surfaces to reflect heat back into space the darker will cause more heat to be absorbed by the earth and you can have an accelerating effect that can just take us off in the wrong direction. I think it’s something that has to be looked at very seriously, we should do whatever we can to try and mitigate the problem because we don't know for sure when that tipping point will happen.

The other thing to think in terms of, the Earth, think about a large ship in the ocean, and you start to turn the ship. It takes a while going in its original direction before you start to see the ship turn. The Earth is a huge ecosystem. As we start to mitigate the problem, it will be a while before we see the positive results that'll come from it. So, we don't know at this point how far we're going to continue to go in this direction before we see things turn around.

ItsAlkron89 karma

Congrats on turning 69! Any goals before 70?

Iinex146 karma

Yes, I would like to license some of my current technology. I'm developing advanced battery technology and would also like to get my heat engine into production

Zykium80 karma

Was there ever a moment where you passed a water fight and realize you've escalated the conflict?

Iinex167 karma

Short answer is yes, the whole idea of the super soaker was to take water guns to an entirely new level. When my daughter started playing with her water gun the other kids couldn't get close to her so you know everybody wanted to have one and all of a sudden water gun fights were at a totally different level

goo_bazooka74 karma

2 questions if you don't mind:

1) which mission do you think is more bang-for-buck... Humans on Mars or multiple robots sent to Jupiter's moons..? Do we have any nearterm missions planned to explore Jupiter's moons for life?

2) what do you think would be the best path to get NASA to be more funded? If a president was elected that really like NASA, could he/she have the power to transfer more funds to NASA or does it need Congress?

Iinex314 karma

Thats a tough one. I'm gonna say humans to Mars because that’s gonna be a lot more demanding in terms of technology sending robots to Jupiter we could develop new instruments, we know how to do that we can use technology we certainly can do it. There's some curious things to know about the moons in fact there’s oceans on particularly one of the moons and there made be life underneath those oceans but as a stepping stone to space I think mars would be the next logical step and even going back to the moon and mining minerals on the moon so we can use those minerals in building and constructing future spacecrafts that can go to the planets I think that’s more of a serious and committed endeavor in terms of moving forward and taking humans to space.

I think it’s important for people to understand the impact that NASA has had on the quality of life worldwide, all the computer technology that we enjoy today has its genesis back to 1962 when President Kennedy said he's gonna put a man on the moon before the decade was out. That required an aggressive effort to develop advance technology. We're facing a similar challenge now with the environment, if we've really committed ourselves address the global warming challenge that we're facing. We would develop advance technology that would improve quality of life by developing advanced energy technology, but it would also put the US in a leadership position, economically.

CuratorOfCats56 karma

Can you share a bit more about the two new contracts you've landed, and what you're hoping to achieve with them?

Iinex117 karma

Well one of the contracts is to demonstrate our solid state battery technology. These batteries are batteries where instead of having the electrolyte, which I refer to as chemicals in a can to make a battery, our batteries are glass and so these are all solid state so these batteries will be a lot safer and store more energy than lithium ion for the same size and weight battery.

The other contract is actually the one with NASA to take the next step in developing my heat to electric converter for powering future nuclear spacecraft. We did a demonstration of the technology in the laboratory for NASA and they were really pleased with the results. So we're moving forward with the continuation of the project we're now, and they're stepping on board to assist with the development and accelerate the program.

King-Boss-Bob52 karma

How does it feel knowing that you have made so many people feel so happy?

Iinex102 karma

It's very gratifying, very rewarding and it makes me want to do more.

Just like any kid I love positive feedback

the_other_kdot44 karma

Can you talk about the Super Soaker litigation and some of the highs and lows you experienced during that process? Is there anything you would have done differently during the litigation process? Looking back, is there any different strategy you wished the attorneys had employed while litigating your case?

Iinex62 karma

Well, actually, there were two litigations. There was one on the Super Soaker and that involved Laramie, and that was per to the relationship with Hasbro. The litigation that got the most visibility was the litigation with Hasbro over the Nerf dart guns, so it was actually not about Super Soaker even though most people think it was. In terms of the litigation itself, it's not something I would wish on anybody. It was very difficult and very stressful. There was a lot at stake obviously, for me, personally. You depend on other people understanding the situation and making the right decision and that decision is totally outside of your control.

In terms of what I would do differently, I wouldn't have settled. If I had to go back and do it again, the award was very lucrative. We settled for a little bit less because after Hasbro appealed, I didn't want to fight with them. We had a great relationship over the years and I really was more interested in having a positive relationship. So I settled for a little bit less. In hindsight, I would have gotten significantly more money and probably would have been still collecting royalties on the N-Strike dart gun line.

get_MEAN_yall32 karma

What do you think the time-frame is for generating working prototypes of the Johnson Thermoelectric Converter? The mechanics of this device are fascinating to me, but I understand the actual operation of such a device is an enormous technological challenge. We don't even have reasonably efficient proton conductors to my knowledge.

Iinex49 karma

That's a very good question. We've actually demonstrated the technology. Under the contract with NASA, we'll be able to demonstrate a device that would be able to operate over a very long time in space. Obviously things that go in to space have to operate because you can't go up and repair them, so they have to be very reliable. So instead of using polymer proton conductors, we'll be using ceramic materials and operating at high temperature. In terms of the device itself, and that fact that we have poor proton conductors, that's a very good point. We address the problem by using very high surface areas, high surface density in a very, very small volume. We have designs that allow us to get a pretty good power density.

recklessmaterialism26 karma

I listened to your amazing Endless Thread interview. I have a couple questions stemming from that conversation.

  • When it comes to the invention process, I imagine you might begin with identifying several problems worth solving as a starting point. If so, what's your method for clearing the noise and culling a larger list of problems to be solved down to just a few or a single one?
  • Enjoyed your homemade windmill story. What are some other common items or objects that a child-adult duo can safely and/or easily take apart and put back together or build from scratch? I assembled my first PC with my uncle by the way and I remember how satisfying it was to acquire each component and put it all together. Hope to do something similar with my nephew very soon that's equally formative. Advice is welcomed.

Iinex45 karma

Well, there's an old expression and it's very true: need is the mother of invention. So, you're absolutely right. what you want to do is focus on the need of the problem. My technique is to identify the problems, some of them are big problems and there obvious problems and you kind of look at it say, 'well, somebody is probably working on that one'. So, you eliminate things that are just obvious problems that people may be working on. Others maybe a bit more subtle. Now, those obvious problems, by the way, if you have way of solving them that is not obvious and that other people would would not have thought of because you have some knowledge or some insight that they may not have them it may be worth pursuing as well.

A big problem is usually worth pursuing if you have something unique or a unique solution to it because as I said, need is the mother of invention. In terms of continuing to narrow the field, sometimes to have to decide, 'okay, how much time, or what's the risk in involved?' Some problems are hard and there is are not solutions. I sometimes think about, for example, Leonardo Da Vinci. He had a lot of ideas, but the technology and the materials that would need to make his ideas work just didn't exist. Sometimes you just have to wait on things to happen. Some o the technology I'm developing, the advanced batteries, for example, we've had to develop our own materials. We literally create new materials, new molecular structures in our laboratory in order to make these solid state ramming batteries work.

One of the things I liked as a child was my erector set and the building blocks. At the time, they were just square blocks. We used to build houses but now with Legos, you can build all sorts of things. And there's also programmable sets for the Legos. In fact, the first robotics program involved the use of programmable Lego sets to make robots. Those things are very educational, and I would certainly encourage you to get involved with that and expose your child to that kind of system so that you both actually will learn a lot.

Exastiken21 karma

Will you be voting on Super Tuesday Election Day?

Iinex63 karma

No, I have already voted!

Rememberbhn19 karma

What does your partnership with the Forever Young Foundation entail? What do you envision coming out of the partnership?

Iinex30 karma

I'm very excited about that partnership because you know, I set up a STEM program at my facility and now we're partnering with the Forever Young Foundation. When I started, the focus was on robotics and because I had built a robot in high school, and being able to share that experience, I have other kids that have experienced that success. With the idea that once they achieve something, or build something, and see what they're capable of doing, that would build self-confidence and make them realize what else they may be able to do or what else is possible for them. The Forever Young Foundation that partnership, I'm very excited because we going to be able to expand that program to actually using computer to design devices. It's a computer-aided design facility, so they're going to learn a lot about programming and designing products and devices.

JaboyMaceWindu16 karma

What is the actual timeline for Mars based on a technical capability standpoint?

Iinex20 karma

Well it depends on what you mean when you ask what the timeline to Mars is. The timeline to get to Earth to Mars is one thing it would take a matter of months. Timeline to get man to Mars is a matter of years because we have to develop the capability.

slawdogporsche14 karma

Hi Lonnie,

Thanks for making Super Soakers!

Could you tell us a little more about what makes your new battery technology unique? Are we talking 5% more battery life? Faster recharge time? Less toxic componenents?

There’s a lot of people in this space trying to make the next great battery technology, like Elon Musk. Is your battery meant to beat his, or provide something different?

Iinex57 karma

My batteries are meant to beat his. u/elonmusk is developing lithium ion battery technology, I'm working on next generation beyond lithium ion, the solid state batteries will be about 2 - 3 times the energy of lithium ion, the same size and weight package. The next generation beyond that will be lithium air battery technology or lithium fuel cells if you will. We started working on that technology back in 2003, time frame initially we stopped working on it when we ran into some really really tough problems that would have literally, when we add the solutions in and look at different ways around all the problems we saw` the benefits of the technology would literally evaporate in terms of added weight and structure but now we found a way of side stepping those issues and we've started the program up again and i'm pretty excited about its potential.

Hi Elon, I hope you're listening haha

Nooneofanynote14 karma

Out of all your other inventions, which would pair best with a super soaker, and why?

Iinex51 karma

What would pair best with the super soaker would probably be the Nerf dart guns. After Super-soaker became very successful, there were these other toy guns on the market and at the time I thought it would be cool to be the king of all toy guns, so I started inventing Nerf dart guns and I made a whole line of guns. There's small guns, large guns, and they all were high performance guns and they performed better than the blasters that Hasbro was producing at the time. So when I presented those blasters to Hasbro, I think they decided that they didn't want me to take that to a competitor, so we entered a contract. So that was eventually evolved into the N-Strike line of dart guns. So, N-Strike, the main line of the Nerf and Super-soakers were all based on patents.

petsku16413 karma

Why not use the super soaker as a propulsion system during EVA? It would be fun, I do realize it wouldn't be very effective, but couldn't it be modified.

Iinex41 karma

It could be. There are propulsion systems such as Hydrazine that use a catalyst so the propellant is actually under pressure. When it hits the catalyst it burns and expands out. The problem with using the Super-soaker is that if you have water in it, when the water comes through the nozzle, it's gonna flash evaporate and what you'll get is ice. The challenge you'll have is trying to keep the ice from freezing the nozzle and plugging it.

nailbiter11111 karma

Do you like or love Orange Tic Tacs?

Iinex38 karma

I like orange tic tacs. I don't love them.

Also, too much sugar is not good for you

original_greaser_bob11 karma

do you feel we should have a limit on the size of super soakers? Do you ever feel that a super soaker can be too large I.e. A mega super soaker or a super duper super soaker? Do you feel the need for there to be larger and more powerful soakers to prevent a super soaker gap between rivals?

Iinex26 karma

No, I don't think so. One of the things that happened earlier on, when Super Soaker became a big big hit, I got a call from a reporter once. The question was that they had received a report that Super Soakers were being used in drive by shootings and they asked me if I had a comment. And I thought, 'you know, maybe we should have more of that.' It would be a lot better using Super Soakers as opposed to real guns, and people would be able to laugh it all off.

miyukisenpai11 karma

Hi! Just want to start off by saying thank you for being a big part of my childhood with your Super Soakers! And also, thank you for assisting in the technological advancement for humanity!

Have you had any disputes or negative remarks from your team members when working at NASA? (For example: would they act condescending in a way because of you being well known for a “toy?”)

Iinex32 karma

No, actually my coworkers from NASA they're complimentary and I get a lot of accolades and they feel very good about my accomplishments and of course I continue to feel very good about NASA and the relationship there.

The only person I ever had any real issue, it wasn't really an issue it was all in fun, but my invention on the Galileo spacecraft when I came up with the idea, I actually told the chief assistant engineer "when you present this idea to the rest of the team they're gonna say it won't work. When they tell you that let me know I'll go home and build one in my garage and bring it in and demonstrate it". Well they weren't about to let me do that, and of course a lot of people did say it would not work, when we got it working and got it on the spacecraft I had one of my fellow engineers come up to me and apologize to me for the things that they had said about it and i say "well what did you say?" well he wouldn't tell me what he had said but I will say that person went on to become the project manager for the path finder mission. Perhaps his interaction with me was actually a motivation to go on to bigger things.

He may be surprised to know that I remember that after all of these years, but obviously he was very motivating for me as well.

durkdurkistanian10 karma

How do you find the time to play beautiful jazz guitar with so many hobbies?

Iinex35 karma

Thats a different Lonnie Johnson unfortunately, I wish I could play guitar

OhJoMoe039 karma

Was it always your plan to enter the field of Rocket science, or did that come up after the fact? Do you actually have a degree in Rocket science, or is it called something else?

Iinex24 karma

I have two degrees, one in mechanical engineering, a masters in nuclear engineering, and an honorary Ph. D in science. In terms of how I became a rocket scientist, actually that evolved when I graduated as a nuclear engineer I first worked at Oak Ridge National Laboratory on high temperature gas cooled nuclear reactors. Then was called to the Air Force, where I was introduced to the Voyager program, where I did analysis for that mission. After I did some analysis that showed some conclusions that NASA had come to needed to be corrected, the people at the jet propulsion laboratory were impressed enough to invite me to join their team. Went out to JPL and worked on the Galileo project and ended up working on several spacecraft systems after that.

squid50s9 karma

What was your first thought when you realized you created a water gun?

Iinex23 karma

Well when I first created the water gun it was actually created by design. So I was actually, before I made the water gun is when I got the idea. I was working on a different project that would use water for a refrigeration device so when I saw a stream of water coming out of a nozzle at high speed it was very impressive and shot along a long way. I decided to invent a water gun that would be high performance and so before I made the gun, I did plot a lot of the engineering principles in order to allow a small kid to pump the gun up to very high pressure and then have minimum losses when the gun was firing so that all the energy would be applied to the nozzle and get the water coming out at high speed so it would go a long way. So I envisioned it before it was working.

mikeitclassy9 karma

Can you tell us about your advanced energy tech solutions that will save the world?

Iinex19 karma

My goal is to contribute towards the solutions in terms of the environmental impact that fossil fuels are having. I can't say alone that I will save the world. That would be a pretty big deal, but I hope to contribute towards the solution.

Exastiken8 karma

Do your battery technologies involve organic solar cells?

Iinex10 karma

No.

classicforever8 karma

Any advice to anyone interested in designing their own amateur aircraft, motorcycles and Nerf blasters? (I want to do all three) also have you heard of the Caliburn and FDL-3 and if so what are your thoughts?

Iinex15 karma

As far as designing your own amateur aircraft, motorcycle and nerf blasters, go for it. In terms of the Caliburn and the FDL-3 I'm really really pleased that the legacy continues and that the product is continuing to be developed.

Happy to see the legacy continues.

Jaxonian8 karma

Do you ever run out of ideas? Like go into the office and have a day where you just watch YouTube or don't have anything you are working on / new projects to dig into?

Iinex20 karma

Actually, I have not found myself without an idea. I have things that are on the back-burner, things that I have not yet gotten to. I sort of take that for granted. What's interesting about that is when I came up with the idea for the Super Soaker, of course i was very happy with the way the gun worked, and as any inventor would be, I was concerned about putting the idea out there and having someone take it and run with it without my being involved. But I decided that I should put it out because there's no way to make any money or be successful with it if nobody knows about it. So I was willing to take the risk, as long as I learned. The idea was to learn from the mistakes, learn about the process so that my next invention, I'd be able to apply the things I learned to achieve success.

cficare7 karma

Fusion energy in our time: there have been a few stories saying it's coming in the new few years or decade. Skunkworks mentioned "compact fusion", etc. What is your take on the possibility of fusion energy in our time?

Iinex15 karma

It’s a foregone conclusion that fusion energy works the challenge with it is containing it and being able to effectively convert the heat from the reaction to the electricity. Containment in the sense that the temperatures are extremely high, think of fusion bomb for example thats an uncontrolled release of fusion energy - the reactions work, we know how to do that. What we don't know how to do is contain it and have it go on in a sustained way, so that’s where the challenge is. Lockheed’s program really focuses on having a small compact system that they can make compact modifications to very easily as they conduct their research and they can try a lot of different things very quickly without having the excess cost of associated with a large facility where they have to reengineer facility to accommodate a change in the experiment. So I think it will come, actually, believe it or not I have some ideas of my own that I have not had a chance to get to. If we get the battery launched and get the JTEC working to get heat covered to electricity maybe that will be one of my future projects but if I try to work on everything at once I can't get anything done so I'm focused on the projects at hand and hopefully I'll get the chance to experiment in that space one day.

niagaraphotos6 karma

You've done some pretty impressive things over your career, did you ever imagine inventing the Super Soaker would be your magnum opus and loved by generations of children?

Iinex12 karma

Actually, I did not imagine that. I always thought Super Soaker was a great toy. In fact, when I built the first one, I thought it was really, really cool. But to have it take off and become such a huge success, obviously I was very pleased to see that. But in terms of ultimately what I'll be able to do, I'm still inventing. I've spent most of my earlier career working on major government national projects such as Galileo and Cassini and the stealth bomber and things like that. But now I'm doing my own thing. I'm just getting started.

upperra6 karma

Is water wet?

Iinex22 karma

Yes water is wet it is in contact with itself.

mr_talbain5 karma

What technology have you sent to space in the past? Can you reveal anything about your new contract with NASA?

Iinex19 karma

Well in the past my invention was the memory keep alive system on the Galileo spacecraft. It was a special circuit that protected the spacecraft memories in event of an onboard short circuit. The memories on the spacecraft were volatile meaning that they had power at all times and if you lost power then the memories would be wiped out and the spacecraft wouldn't have any programming in it’s computer - no instructions at all it wouldn't even know how to turn towards earth to receive reprogramming in order to continue the mission. The new contract with NASA involves my invention for converting heat into electricity spacecrafts that go towards outer planets use radioisotopic heat sources which is basically a nuclear material that’s undergoing radioactive decay to produce heat and they use thermoelectric devices to convert that heat into electricity. My invention convert that heat into electricity a lot more efficiently, whereas now the devices they use give them about 6 - 8% conversion efficiency. My device will increase that to about 30 - 40%

SeptemberFiction4 karma

Building off that answer, can you talk about the technologies your battery inventions will be used in or what projects you plan to implement using the technology? If your engine technology increases efficiency with fuel conversion by 30-40%, how much do you expect your battery tech to help efficiency grow by? If you're able to talk about it. Thanks in advance!

Iinex15 karma

Well, technically, batteries are in the high 90% efficiency. In fact, 99% would not be unheard of in a battery. Basically, the idea is that the energy you put in is the energy you get back. So people have been able to achieve high-efficiency with batteries. The advantages of the batteries will be the amount of energy you can store for size and weight. You know electric vehicles, for example, a Tesla can go 300 miles on a single charge. If I have a lithium fuel cell in there that has ten times the energy and the same size and weight battery, then it can go ten times as far. So imagine a vehicle that would go 3000 miles on a single charge. It's worth pursuing. It's worth working on. It's worth the risk. It's a major challenge, but given the benefits, it's something that warrants really serious investigation.

SeriesIRL5 karma

Are most of your creations/inventions come upon by happenstance? Or were they purpose driven? Also, thank you sir for countless childhood memories.

Iinex8 karma

Actually there’s a combination of both, the Super Soaker happened when I was working on a new type of heat pump that used water as a working fluid via conditioning device, and I shot this stream of water and I saw how neat it was and how satisfying it was to have a very powerful stream of water in your hand. So I decided to design a water gun and I applied some engineering principals to make the water gun perform the way I wanted it to. On the other hand the Nerf dart guns, those inventions were by intent. I saw the Nerf guns on the market, I wanted to control that market and control those designs so I started designing guns that out performed the ones that were available and with the idea of challenging Hasbro in terms of the market share they had at the time and fortunately we were able to strike a deal together.

The things I'm working on now, in the energy space, are focused on solving major problems and improving the environment. I feel like I can have an impact. And, you're welcome, haha

aeswins5 karma

Do you have any cool Soviet spy stories?

Iinex5 karma

Not particularly, but I was very impressed by this video which seems appropriate for your question.

SplendidCoffee05 karma

Where do you think the future of space research is headed?

Iinex16 karma

I think the future of space research is headed towards to the planets and to the stars eventually. Like Einstein said imagination is far far more important than knowledge and we see a lot of visions in sci-fi movies that have actually become reality and that will continue to happen. Human beings are built to create and explore.

devlucas004 karma

What do you think of as an Rocket Scientist think of new space?

Iinex8 karma

When I think of new space, jeez, it could be new things in space, or new locations in space. A new capability in space. All of those things. Right now, NASA has plans for a spacecraft they're calling the 'interstellar probe'. Where Voyager right now is traveling at about 3,400 miles an hour, the interstellar probe will leave our Solar System and galaxy, eventually, travelling at a speed of 156,000 miles per hour - a totally different ball game. When you think about the fact that a bullet only travels at about 3,000 miles an hour, this is a big deal. But then putting a man on Mars, for example, that's new space. That's a new capability, a new challenge. Solving global warming issues, that's a new space as well. Requires technology. Requires us to watch our resources in a way that...not only marshaling technical resources, but marshaling people's attitudes and perspectives so that we achieve the commitment that is necessary to make the changes that need to happen.

Marxbrosburner3 karma

If you built a super soaker in the shape of a rocket, how many times would I have to pump it in order for it to be able to blast itself into space?

Iinex2 karma

I don't think you'll get there because in order to make a water rocket go to space the pressures would be extremely high, thus the containment vessel would have to be thick and heavy and you would be limited by diminishing returns. It may be helpful to know that the Space Shuttle is actually a water rocket. The main engines use hydrogen and oxygen as a fuel and the combustion product is water.

finalmantisy833 karma

Not to dampen the mood, but growing up, did you feel pressure from your family and community for being a black man in the STEM field?

Iinex2 karma

No. My friends in school called me The Professor, and I was encouraged by my peers to enter the field. This was in the 60's and a lot of people were paying close attention to the race to the moon and there was a lot of excitement around science and technology.

The only pressure was the pressure that I put on myself to succeed.

redditisonlyfortroll2 karma

Do you believe over annuity is possible even though the laws of thermal dynamics say otherwise?

Iinex8 karma

I believe in the laws of physics.

cybergeek112352 karma

Have any FLL (www.firstinspires.com) teams reached out to you about being a subject matter expert for this year's challenge? If not, could mine?

Iinex2 karma

Send me a direct message.

SlashBolt2 karma

Do you feel guilty for perverting the human cause of science to create a weapon of greater power, accuracy, and range than conventional squirt guns of the era?

Iinex2 karma

Not one bit.

PornoPaul2 karma

I'm jealous of all the really good questions so I'll make mine simple. If you had a chance to be one of the first people on Mars, regardless of danger, would you go for it?

Iinex3 karma

No. I have trouble holding down my food on a Ferris wheel.

bobbyfez1 karma

Are aliens real?

Iinex2 karma

Listen to the u/endless_thread podcast linked above to find out!

elitenoob761 karma

I have invented several ideas in my mind yet I have the drive to create them. Would it be bad of me to give them away?

Iinex2 karma

No. If someone could enjoy your creation it's important to get it out into the world.

IrvineKafka1 karma

Teleportation and time travel... Do you think both are/can/will be possible?

Have you ever been interested in developing something that makes these ideas a reality?

Iinex2 karma

The challenges with the technology is energy related. If you have an energy beam that is teleporting the mass of a human body you can use Einstein's equation to calculate the amount of energy that the beam will have. It's humongous.

As for time travel, it already exists. We all go forward at normal speed. H/T u/IAmDemetriMartin

bossomatic761 karma

What is the most amazing thing you have seen somebody else do with one of your patented creations?

Iinex3 karma

My very first patent, The Digital Distance Measuring Instrument (Patent No. 4,143,267), is the underlying technology behind CDs and DVDs. So seeing CDs and DVDs is pretty amazing knowing that is was based on my technology.

KubrickIsMyCopilot1 karma

Let me say, loved the Super Soaker 100 as a kid.

What propulsion technology do you see as holding the most promise for human spaceflight in the current century?

Iinex2 karma

Nuclear propulsion using ion engines.

suitcase88-2 karma

Would you recommend eating prunes for constipation?

Iinex5 karma

I'm not a medical doctor, but I do recommend a balanced diet.