A Puzzler from the Final Frontier

Jan 10, 2005

RAY: This is from the wonderful world of space travel. This puzzler
was sent in by Dave Foster. I actually had to obfuscate a little, but
here it is:

In the early '60s NASA was sending electronic gear into outer space
on unmanned missions. They'd already sent a guy into space but they
wanted to make sure that if they were going to send people up for
longer flights, that they had a chance of surviving. They were
sending this electronic gear up to test a variety of things like
radiation exposure, and so on.

The equipment kept failing, but they couldn't figure out why.

Finally, someone determined that the circuits were overheating, so
they installed a fan to cool off the devices.

But the problems persisted. Why?
Answer: 
RAY: On those early, unmanned flights they didn't pressurize the cabins. And there's no air in outer space. And if there's no air to blow around, a fan --

TOM: doesn't do the squat.

RAY: Exactly. So who's our winner?

TOM: The winner this week is Harrison Schramm from Monterey, California, and for having his answer selected at random from among those thousands of correct answers that we got, Harrison gets a 26 dollar gift certificate to the Shameless Commerce Division at Cartalk.com, where he can almost get a stainless steel Car Talk thermos that says 5W30 on it, so everyone at the office will know what viscosity he drinks.

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