Inventors & Invention - Continue
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GABE, FRANCES Frances Gabe (actually, Frances G. Bateson) (1915-) invented and patented the self-cleaning house. Gabe, who lives in Newberg, Oregon, USA, disliked housework intensely. She designed and lives in a house in which each room has a 10-inch square, "Cleaning/ Drying/ Heating/ Cooling" device on the ceiling. To clean a room, all you have to do is push a button in a room, and the cleaning unit sends a powerful spray of soapy water around the room. It then rinses and blow-dries the room. Each room has a slightly-sloping floor, so the water would drain well. Frances stored valuable objects (and things that should not get wet) under glass. The house also has self-cleaning sinks, bathtubs and toilets. Her cupbord doubles as a dishwasher and her clothes are cleaned, dried and stored while hanging in the closet. Gabe holds 68 patents. Frances said, "Housework is a thankless, unending job, a nerve-tangling bore. Who wants it? Nobody! With my jaw set hard I was determined there had to be a better way!"

GALILEI, GALILEO Galileo Galilei (1564-1642) was an Italian mathematician, astronomer, and physicist. Galileo found that the speed at which bodies fall does not depend on their weight and did extensive experimentation with pendulums. In 1593 Galileo invented the thermometer. In 1609, Galileo was the first person to use a telescope to observe the skies (after hearing about Hans Lippershey's newly-invented telescope). Galileo discovered the rings of Saturn (1610), was the first person to see the four major moons of Jupiter (1610), observed the phases of Venus, studied sunspots, and discovered many other important phenomena.

GANT, ALLEN Pantyhose was invented in 1959 by Allen Gant of North Carolina, USA, in 1959. This new undergarment became popular as miniskirts were the fashion and soon came to replace nylon stockings held up with a garter belt (short skirts were not long enough to hide the bottom of the garter belt). Gant was associated with the Glen Raven Mills textile mill (he was a descendant of the founder of the mill, John Gant), the company that first manufactured pantyhose.

GAS MASK Garrett Augustus Morgan (March 4, 1877 - August 27, 1963), was an African-American inventor and businessman. He was the first person to patent a traffic signal. He also developed the gas mask (and many other inventions). Morgan used his gas mask (patent No. 1,090,936, 1914) to rescue miners who were trapped underground in a noxious mine. Soon after, Morgan was asked to produce gas masks for the US Army.

GAYETTY, JOSEPH Joseph Gayetty invented toilet paper in 1857. His new toilet paper was composed of flat sheets. Before Gayetty's invention, people tore pages out of mail order catalogs - before catalogs were common, leaves were used. Unfortunately, Gayetty's invention failed. Walter Alcock (of Great Britain) later developed toilet paper on a roll ( instead of in flat sheets). Again, the invention failed. In 1867, Thomas, Edward and Clarence Scott (brothers from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA) were successful at marketing toilet paper that consisted of a small roll of perforated paper . They sold their new toilet paper from a push cart - this was the beginning of the Scott Paper Company.

GEIGER COUNTER The Geiger counter (sometimes called the Geiger-Muller counter) is a device that detects ionizing radioactivity (including gamma rays and X-rays) - it counts the radioactive particle that pass through the device. The German nuclear physicist Hans Wilhelm Geiger (Sept. 30, 1882- Sept. 24, 1945) developed the device from 1908-12. At that time, Geiger was an assistant to the British physicist Ernest Rutherford (1871-1937). [Geiger's work helped Rutherford discover that radioactive elements can transform into other elements and that atoms have a nucleus]. In 1928, the Geiger counter was improved by the German physicist E. Walther Muller.

GEOLOGIC TIME SCALE A geologic time scale is a diagram that details the history of the Earth's geology, noting major events like the formation of the Earth, the first life forms and mass extinctions. The first geologic time scale was proposed in 1913 by the British geologist Arthur Holmes (1890 - 1965). Holmes was also the first person to realize that the Earth was billions of years old (not millions, as had been previously believed).

GERSTENZANG, LEO The Q-tip was invented in the 1920's Leo Gerstenzang (a Polish-born American). His wife had used a toothpick with cotton stuck on the end to clean their baby's ears, and Leo invented Q-tips to replace her jury-rigged invention. Gerstenzang's original Q-tips consisted of a wooden stick swathed in cotton at both ends; much later, the wood was replaced by white cardboard. Gerstenzang started the Infant Novelty Company to sell Q-tips (which he then called Baby Gays); in 1926, he changed the name of his product to Q-Tips® Baby Gays. The Q stood for "quality". Eventually, the name changed to Q-tips. Doctors today advise that you should not use Q-tips to clean inside your ears. Q-tips, however, have many other uses, including cleaning small areas (like jewelry or the space between computer keys), applying glue, spreading paint, etc. GLASSES Eyeglasses with convex lenses for correcting farsighted vision were probably invented in Italy around the year 1268-1284, perhaps by Salvino D'Armate of Pisa or by Alessandro Spina of Florence. Early glasses were also made in China around the same time. The earliest glasses did not have arms; they perched on the bridge of the nose. Eyeglasses with concave lenses for nearsightedness (or myopia) were not invented until the 1400s. Glasses with arms were invented in the 1600s. Bifocals (combining convex and concave lenses to correct both nearsightedness and farsightedness) were invented by Benjamin Franklin around 1775. Glasses with hinged arms were invented in 1752 by James Ayscough. Ayscough also made the first sunglasses (glasses with green- or blue-tinted lenses). Polarizing filters (which are very effective at filtering out glare) were invented by Edwin H. Land (and patented in 1929). Katherine J. Blodgett (1898-1979) invented a micro-thin barium stearate lens coating that made glass completely nonreflective and "invisible" (patent #2,220,660, March 16, 1938).

GLOBE Martin Behaim (1459-1537) was a German mapmaker, navigator, and merchant who made the earliest globe, called the "Nürnberg Terrestrial Globe". It was made during the years 1490-1492; the painter Georg Glockendon helped in the project. Behaim had previously sailed to Portugal as a merchant (in 1480). He had advised King John II on matters concerning navigation. He accompanied the Portuguese explorer Diogo Cam (Cão) on a 1485-1486 voyage to the coast of West Africa; during this trip, the mouth of the Congo River was discovered. After returning to Nürnberg in 1490, Behaim began construction of his globe (which was very inaccurate as compared to other maps from that time, even in the areas in which Behaim had sailed). It was once thought that Behaim's maps might have influenced Columbus and Magellan; this is now discounted. Behaim may have also developed an astrolabe. Behaim's globe is now in the German National Museum in Nürnberg.

GODDARD, ROBERT Robert Hutchings Goddard (October 5, 1882-August 10, 1945) was an American physicist and inventor who is known as the father of modern rocketry. In 1907, Goddard proved that a rocket's thrust can propel it in a vacuum. In 1914, Goddard received two U.S. patents: for liquid-fueled rockets and for two- to three-stage rockets that use solid fuel. In 1919, Goddard wrote a scientific article, "A Method of Reaching Extreme Altitudes," describing a high-altitude rocket; it was published in a Smithsonian report. Goddard's many inventions were the basis upon which modern rocketry is based. After many years of failed attempts and public ridicule, Goddard's first successful rocket was launched on March 16, 1926 from a relative's farm in Auburn, Massachusetts. It was a liquid-fueled 10-ft. rocket that he called Nell. The flight lasted 2 1/2 seconds; the rocket flew a distance of 184 feet and achieved an altitude of 41 feet. Goddard soon moved to Roswell, New Mexico, where he developed more sophisticated multi-stage rockets, rockets with fins (vanes) to steer them (1932), a gyro control device to control the rocket (1932), and supersonic rockets (1935). In 1937, Goddard launched the first rocket with a pivotable motor on gimbals using his gyro control device. Altogether, Robert Goddard had 214 patents.

GOODE, SARAH S. Sarah E. Goode was a businesswoman and inventor. Goode invented the folding cabinet bed, a space-saver that folded up against the wall into a cabinet. When folded up, it could be used as a desk, complete with compartments for stationery and writing supplies. Goode owned a furniture store in Chicago, Illinois, and invented the bed for people living in small apartments. Goode's patent was the first one obtained by an African-American woman inventor (patent #322,177, approved on July 14, 1885).

GREGORY, JAMES James Gregory (1638-1675), a Scottish mathematician, invented the first reflecting telescope in 1663. He published a description of the reflecting telescope in "Optica Promota," which was published in 1663. He never actually made the telescope, which was to have used a parabolic and an ellipsoidal mirror.

GUILLOTINE Many, many people were being executed during the French Revolution, and Dr. Joseph-Ignace Guillotin (1738-1821) suggested that decapitation would be a more humane method for execution. Experiments with cadavers (dead people) were done. The device that we call the guillotine was invented; it is a tall wooden framework with a hole to keep a person's head still and a large falling blade. Although he did not invent the machine we call the guillotine, Guillotin's name is forever attached to it. The guillotine was first was used on April 25, 1792 at the Place de Grève (the victim was a highway man). The most famous victims of the guillotine include the deposed French King Louis XVI and his extravagant wife Queen Marie Antoinette, who were beheaded on January 21, 1793. The guillotine was used in France until 1981, when capital punishment was abolished.

GUNPOWDER Gunpowder was invented in China, probably during the 1000's. Gunpowder is composed of about 75 percent saltpeter (potassium nitrate), 15 percent powdered charcoal, and 10 percent sulphur. The Chinese used gunpower to make fireworks and signals, and later to make weapons of war.

GUTENBERG, JOHANNES Johannes Gutenberg (the 1300's-1468) was a German craftsman, inventor, and printer who invented the first printing press with movable type in 1450. This invention revolutionized printing, making it simpler and more affordable. Gutenberg produced dies (molds) for easily producing individual pieces of metal type that could be made, assembled, and later reused. Gutenberg's new press could print a page every three minutes. This made printed material available to the masses for the first time in history. Religious materials were the majority of the early printed materials. The use of printing presses began the standardization of spelling.

GYROSCOPE A gyroscope is essentially a spinning wheel set in a movable frame. When the wheel spins, it retains its spatial orientation, and it resists external forces applied to it. Gyroscopes are used in navigation instruments (for ships, planes, and rockets). Jean Bernard Léon Foucault (1819-1868), a French physicist, invented the gyroscope in 1852.

HADLEY, JOHN H. John Hadley (1682-1744) was an English mathematician and inventor who built the first reflecting telescope and invented an improved quadrant in 1731 (known as Hadley's quadrant). Hadley Rille, a long valley on the surface of the moon, was named for Hadley.

HARGREAVES, JAMES James Hargreaves (1720? - April 22, 1778) was an English weaver and spinner (he spun wool thread using a spinning wheel). He invented the spinning jenny, a hand-powered multiple spinning machine. The spinning jenny was much more efficient than the spinning wheel. With a spinning wheel, a person could produce only one yarn thread at a time. With Hargreaves' spinning jenny, a person could produce up to eight threads at once (it used one spinning wheel and 8 spindles on which threads were wound). The thread that the spinning jenny produced was coarse, and was only suited for filling material, but it was still quite a useful invention, and led the way to even better spinning devices. Hargreaves is said to have gotten the idea for his remarkable invention after his young daughter (named Jenny) overturned his spinning wheel. When it was upturned, it continued to spin, and Hargreaves realized that many spinning wheels could be positioned like this, creating a multiple-wheeled spinning machine. Hargreaves began selling spinning jenny's from his home, near Blackburn, Lancashire, England. After hearing of his invention, local spinners became fearful of losing their jobs and broke into Hargreaves' house, destroying his spinning jennies. He then moved to Nottingham, England (in 1768). Thomas James became Hargreaves' partner and they began a spinning mill which used spinning jennies (which could now produce even more threads per machine). Hargreaves patented the spinning jenny on July 12, 1770.

HAYAKAWA, TOKUJI The mechanical pencil was invented in 1915 by Tokuji Hayakawa (November 3, 1894-June 24, 1980). His first mechanical pencil was called the "Ever-Ready Sharp Pencil." Hayakawa had owned a metalworking shop in Tokyo, Japan, and in 1942, expanded his company and renamed it the Hayakawa Electric Industry Co.,Ltd. It was later called the Sharp Corporation (1970), and Hayakawa was appointed chairman.

HERON The steam engine was invented by Heron, an ancient Greek geometer and engineer from Alexandria. Heron lived during the first century AD and is sometimes called Hero. Heron made the steam engine as a toy, and called his device "aeolipile," which means "wind ball" in Greek. The steam was supplied by a sealed pot filled with water and placed over a fire. Two tubes came up from the pot, letting the steam flow into a spherical ball of metal. The metallic sphere had two curved outlet tubes, which vented steam. As the steam went through the series of tubes, the metal sphere rotated. The Greeks never used this remarkable device for anything but a novelty. A steam engine designed for real work wasn't designed until 1690, when Dionysius Papin published plans for a for a high-pressure steam engine. Thomas Savery built the first steam engine in 1698. Watt later improved the steam engine.

HOLMES, ARTHUR A geologic time scale is a diagram that details the history of the Earth's geology, noting major events like the formation of the Earth, the first life forms and mass extinctions. The first geologic time scale was proposed in 1913 by the British geologist Arthur Holmes (1890 - 1965). Holmes was also the first person to realize that the Earth was billions of years old (not millions, as had been previously believed).

HOPPER, GRACE M. Rear Admiral Grace Murray Hopper (1906 - 1992) was a US naval officer and mathematician who invented the computer compiler (called the A-O) in 1952. Her compiler revolutionized computer programming, automatically translating high-level instructions (easier to understand by people) into machine code (the cryptic, native language of the central processing unit). Hopper and a team developed the first user-friendly business programming language, COBOL (COmmon Business-Oriented Language). There is an unconfirmed story that Hopper determined than an error in the early Mark II computer was caused by a moth that was trapped in it; she then coined the term "computer bug."

HOT-AIR BALLOON A hot-air balloon is a balloon that is filled with hot air; it rises because hot air is less dense (lighter) than the rest of the air. Joseph and Jacques Etienne Montgolfier were two French bothers who made the first successful hot-air balloon. Their first balloon was launched in December, 1782, and ascended to an altitude of 985 ft (300 m). This type of hot-air balloon was called the Montgolfiére; it was made of paper and used air heated by burning wool and moist straw. The first passengers in a hot-air balloon were a rooster, a sheep, and a duck, whom the Montgolfier brothers sent up to an altitude of 1,640 ft (500 m) on September 19, 1783 (the trip lasted for 8 minutes); the animals survived the landing. This event was observed by King Louis XVI and Queen Marie Antoinette of France.

HOT DOGS Hot dogs began as sausages sold in buns. They were first sold from carts by German immigrants on the streets of New York City in the 1860s. The bun replaced a plate and made the hot dog easier to carry and eat. Sauerkraut was provided as a relish on the hot dog.

HOWE, ELIAS Elias Howe (1819-1867) was American inventor who patented an improved sewing machine in 1846. His revolutionary machine used two separate threads, one threaded through the needle, and one in a shuttle; it was powered by a hand crank. A sideways-moving needle with its eye at one end would pierce the fabric, creating a loop of thread on the other side; a shuttle would then push thread through the loop, creating a tight lock stitch. Earlier sewing machines used only one thread and a chain stitch that could unravel. Howe's business did not thrive. Others, like Isaac Singer made slight modifications in the machine and built successful businesses. Howe sued those who had infringed on his patent and won royalties on all machines sold (he was paid $5.00 for each sewing machine sold). Howe died the year his patent expired.

HUYGENS, CHRISTIAN Christian Huygens (1629-1695) was a Dutch physicist and astronomer who developed new methods for grinding and polishing glass telescope lenses (about 1654). With his new, powerful telescopes, he identified Saturn's rings and discovered Titan, the largest moon of Saturn in 1655. Huygens also invented the pendulum clock in 1656 (eliminating springs), wrote the first work on the calculus of probability (De Ratiociniis in Ludo Aleae, 1655), and proposed the wave theory of light (Traité de la lumiere, 1678).

HYATT, JOHN WESLEY Celluloid is a plastic made from cellulose (it is derived from plants). This very flammable material was invented in 1869 by the American inventor John Wesley Hyatt (it was invented to be a substitute for the elephant ivory used for billiard balls). Celluloid was one the first plastics invented; it can be damaged by moisture.

HYDE, IDA HENRIETTA Ida Henrietta Hyde (1857-1945) was an American physiologist who invented the microelectrode in the 1930's. The microelectrode is a small device that electrically (or chemically) stimulates a living cell and records the electrical activity within that cell. Hyde was the first woman to graduate from the University of Heidelberg, to do research at the Harvard Medical School and to be elected to the American Physiological Society.

INCANDESCENT LIGHT BULB The first incandescent electric light was made in 1800 by Humphry Davy, an English scientist. He experimented with electricity and invented an electric battery. When he connected wires to his battery and a piece of carbon, the carbon glowed, producing light. This is called an electric arc. Much later, in 1860, the English physicist Sir Joseph Wilson Swan (1828-1914) was determined to devise a practical, long-lasting electric light. He found that a carbon paper filament worked well, but burned up quickly. In 1878, he demonstrated his new electric lamps in Newcastle, England. The inventor Thomas Alva Edison (in the USA) experimented with thousands of different filaments to find just the right materials to glow well and be long-lasting. In 1879, Edison discovered that a carbon filament in an oxygen-free bulb glowed but did not burn up for 40 hours. Edison eventually produced a bulb that could glow for over 1500 hours. The incandescent bulb revolutionized the world.

INTEGRATED CIRCUIT An integrated circuit (IC) or chip is a wafer of material to which impurities have been added (in just the right patterns) so that the entire chip is a circuit composed of many transistors. The chip (usually made of silicon or germanium) makes computational devices, like computers, very small and very inexpensive. IC's were invented independently in 1959 by Jack Kilby and Robert Noyce.

INTERCHANGEABLE PARTS Clock makers used the idea of interchangeable parts since the early 1700's. In 1790, the French gunsmith Honoré Blanc demonstrated his muskets entirely made from interchangeable parts; the French government didn't like the process (since with this process, anyone could manufacture items, and the government lost control), so it was stopped. The idea of interchangeable parts was introduced to American gun manufacturing by Eli Whitney (1765-1825) in 1798. The concept of interchangeable manufacturing parts helped modernize the musket industry (and mass production in general). Whitney made templates for each separate part of the musket (an early gun). The workers then used the template when chiseling the part. Whitney was an American inventor and engineer who also invented the cotton gin.

IRON, ELECTRIC The electric iron was invented in 1882 by Henry W. Seeley, a New York inventor Seeley patented his "electric flatiron" on June 6, 1882 (patent no. 259,054). His iron weighed almost 15 pounds and took a long time to warm up. Other electric irons had also been invented, including one from France (1882), but it used a carbon arc to heat the iron, a method which was dangerous.

JAMES, RICHARD The engineer Richard James (1914-1974) invented the Slinky TM in 1943. This spring-toy came about by accident as James was developing springs to support sensitive equipment on ships. James invented a manufacturing machine that could make a Slinky TM from 80 feet of steel wire in 10 seconds. His wife Betty James (1918- ) named the Slinky TM and runs the company that produces it.

JANSKY, KARL Karl Gothe Jansky (1905-1949) was an American radio engineer who pioneered and developed radio astronomy. In 1932, he detected the first radio waves from a cosmic source - in the central region of the Milky Way Galaxy.

JANSSEN, ZACHARIAS Zacharias Janssen was a Dutch lens-maker who invented the first compound microscope in 1595 (a compound microscope is one which has more than one lens). His microscope consisted of two tudes that slid within one another, and had a lens at each end. The microscope was focused by sliding the tubes. The lens in the eyepiece was bi-convex (bulging outwards on both sides), and the lens of the far end (the objective lens) was plano-convex (flat on one side and bulging outwards on the other side). This advanced microscope had a 3 to 9 times power of magnification. Zacharias Janssen's father Hans may have helped him build the microscope.

JEANS Levi Strauss (1829-1902) was an entrepreneur who invented and marketed blue jeans. Trained as a tailor in Buttenheim, Bavaria, Germany, Strauss went to San Francisco, USA from New York in 1853. Strauss sold dry goods, including tents and linens to the 49ers (the people who came to the California gold rush, which began in 1849). In 1873, Strauss and Jacob Davis, a Nevada tailor, patented the idea (devised by Davis) of using copper rivets at the stress points of sturdy work pants. Early levis, called "waist overalls," came in a brown canvas duck fabric and a heavy blue denim fabric. The duck fabric pants were not very successful, so were dropped early on. His business became extremely successful (and still is), revolutionizing the apparel industry.

JUDSON, WHITCOMB L. Whitcomb L. Judson was an American engineer from Chicago, Illinois, who invented a metal zipper device with locking teeth in 1890. Judson patented his "clasp-locker'' on Aug. 29, 1893; later in 1893, he exhibited this new invention at the Chicago World's Fair. He never succeeded in marketing his new device. The zipper was improved by the Swedish-American engineer, Gideon Sundbach, and was named by the B.F. Goodrich company in 1923. Judson died in 1909, before his device became commonly used and well-known

KALEIDOSCOPE A kaleidoscope is a tube you look into that makes beautiful, colorful patterns using mirrors. The kaleidoscope was invented by the Scottish physicist Sir David Brewster (1781-1868); he patented the kaleidoscope in 1817.

KAMEN, DEAN Dean Kamen is an American inventor who has invented many revolutionary devices and holds over 35 U.S. patents. He developed the portable medical infusion pump, which allows patients to receive medication, like insulin, away from the hospital, and has allowed diabetic women to carry and deliver babies much more safely. Kamen designed the iBot, a revolutionary wheelchair (that uses gyroscopes and computers) that the user "wears" - it allows increased mobility (it can even climb stairs) and improved social interaction (the user can "stand"). He also invented intravascular stents (devices that hold blocked arteries open) and the portable kidney dialysis machine, which has enabled kidney dialysis patients to avoid long hospital visits - they can do the dialysis themselves while they sleep. The Segway is the new single-person vehicle he invented. Kamen founded an educational learning center for children called Science Enrichment Encounters (or "SEE"), and FIRST ("For the Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology") which has a yearly robot competition for high school students.

KARLE, ISABELLA L. Isabella Helen Lugoski Karle (1921- ) is a American physical chemist who invented new methods of X-ray Crystallography. She used electron diffraction and then x-ray diffraction to study the structure of molecules. Karle developed a three-dimensional modeling process, enabling her to identify and show the structures of hundreds of complex and important molecules (including alkaloids, ionophores, steroids, toxins, and peptides [amino acid compounds]). Because of Karle's process, the number of published molecular analyses has jumped from about 150 to over 10,000 per year. Karle received the National Medal of Science in 1995. Karle is a senior scientist and head of the Naval Research Laboratory's (NRL) x-ray diffraction section in the Laboratory for the Structure of Matter. Karle's husband, Jerome Karle, is a Nobel Prize winner in chemistry.

KELVIN Lord Kelvin (William Thompson, 1824 - 1907) designed the Kelvin scale, in which 0 K is defined as absolute zero and the size of one degree is the same as the size of one degree Celsius. Water freezes at 273.16 K; water boils at 373.16 K.

KEVLAR Kevlar (poly[p-phenyleneterephtalamide]) is a polymer fiber that is five times stronger than the same weight of steel. Kevlar is used in bullet-proof vests, helmets, trampolines, tennis rackets, and many other commonly-used objects. Kevlar was invented by Stephanie Louise Kwolek and was first marketed by DuPont in 1971.

KINDERGARTEN Kindergarten (which means "garden of children") was developed by Friedrich Wilhelm August Froebel (also written Fröbel) (1782-1852). Froebel was a German educator and educational reformer who opened the first kindergarten in Bad Blankenburg (near Keilhau) in 1837. Froebel founded a kindergarten training school at Liebenstein, Germany, in 1849. After some conflicts and mistaken charges of treason, the German government banned the establishment of kindergartens in 1851. In 1860, the government repealed the ban, and kindergartens re-opened (unfortunately, this was after Froebel's death). Froebel's kindergartens included pleasant surroundings, self-motivated activity, play, music, and the physical training of the child.

KITE The kite was invented roughly 2,500 to 3,000 years ago. It originated in China, Malaysia or Indonesia (there are many claims to having invented the kite). Some people say that the earliest kites consisted of a huge leaf attached to a long string (there is a type of Indonesian leaf that is wonderful as a kite).

K'NEX The toy construction set called K'NEX was invented in 1990 by Joel Glickman. Joel had been playing with straws while at a wedding and realized that with some simple connectors, they would make a great building set. His plastic rod and connector construction set soon became popular worldwide. K'NEX are made by K'NEX Industries, Inc., a privately held company, and are distributed by the toy company Hasbro.

KOOL AID The powdered drink Kool-Aid was invented in 1927 by the chemist Edwin Perkins of Nebraska Omaha. Perkins started a company in 1914 that sold perfume and calling cards; it was called the Perkins Products Company. Originally located in Hendley, Nebraska, they moved to Hastings, Nebraska (about 90 miles west of Lincoln) in 1920, and expanded their product line to include spices, medicines, more toilet preparations, and other household items. Kool-Aid was originally a liquid called "Fruit Smack," and was sold in a 4-ounce bottles. It was later renamed Kool-Ade (and later, Kool-Aid), and sold in powdered form in packets. The seven original Kool-Aid flavors were: Cherry, Lemon-Lime, Grape, Orange, Root Beer, Strawberry, and Raspberry. The Kool-Aid factory later moved to Chicago, Illinois, and was bought by General Foods Corporation in 1953.

KWOLEK, STEPHANIE LOUISE Stephanie Louise Kwolek (1923- ) is an American chemist who discovered kevlar and many other para-aramid fibers. Kevlar (poly[p-phenyleneterephtalamide]) is a polymer fiber that is five times stronger than the same weight of steel. Kevlar is used in bullet-proof vests, helmets, trampolines, tennis rackets, and many other commonly-used objects.

LAND, E. H. Edwin Herbert Land (1909-1991) was an American physicist and inventor who developed the first modern light polarizers (which eliminate glare) and other optical devices, investigated the mechanisms of color perception, and developed the instant photography process (the Polaroid camera). Land established the Polaroid Corp. in 1937.

LATEX Latex (a natural, stretchy substance from which rubber is made) is extracted from rubber trees. Rubber trees are large trees (belonging to the spurge family, family Euphorbiaceae) that live in tropical (warm) areas. These trees are tapped for their latex, which is produced in their bark layers (latex is not the sap). The Pará rubber tree (Hevea brasiliensis) is native to South American rain forests, and grows to be over 100 ft (30 m) tall. In 1876, Henry Wickham brought seeds from the Para rubber tree (taken from the lower Amazon area of Brazil) to London, England. Seedlings were grown in London, and later sent to Ceylon and Singapore. The technique of tapping rubber trees for their latex was developed in southeast Asia (before that, the trees were cut down to extract the rubber). Commercial rubber production now takes place in Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, and Sri Lanka (but not significantly in South America).

LATIMER, LEWIS H. Lewis Howard Latimer (1848-1928) was an African-American inventor who was a member of Edison's research team, which was called "Edison's Pioneers." Latimer improved the newly-invented incandescent light bulb by inventing a carbon filament (which he patented in 1881).

LAWN MOWER The first lawn mower was invented in 1830 by Edwin Beard Budding. Budding (1795-1846) was an engineer from Stroud, Gloucestershire, England. His reel mower was a set of blades set in a cylinder on two wheels. When you push the lawn mower, the cylinder rotates, and the blades cut the grass. Budding patented his lawn mower on August 31, 1830. Before his invention, a scythe was used (or sheep or other grazing animals were allowed to graze on the grass). The first reel lawn mower patent in the US (January 12, 1868) was granted to Amariah M. Hills, who formed the Archimedean Lawn Mower Co.

LECLANCHE, GEORGES The dry cell is a an improved voltaic cell (battery) that has a cylindrical zinc shell (the zinc acts as both the cathode and the container) that is lined with an ammonium chloride (the electrolyte) saturated material (and not a liquid). Although called dry, dry cells are not entirely dry, but they are less bulky and more easily transported than earlier batteries. The dry cell battery was developed in the 1870s-1870s by Georges Leclanché (1839-1882), a French engineer, who used an electrolyte in the form of a paste in his new battery.

LEGO Legos (TM) are a very popular interlocking plastic toy. The LEGO toy company was founded by Ole Kirk Christiansen of Denmark in 1932, but the company then sold mostly wooden toys. The word LEGO was formed from two Danish words, "LEg GOdt," which mean "play well." Christiansen was a carpenter from the Danish village of Billund. The interlocking plastic blocks (the stud and tube coupling system) were invented by Godtfred Christiansen (Ole's son), and patented in 1958. Lego toys were first sold in the USA in 1961. LEGO people were introduced in 1974.

LEVERS Levers are one of the basic tools; they were probably used in prehistoric times. Levers were first described about 260 BC by the ancient Greek mathematician Archimedes (287-212 BC). Many of our basic tools use levers, including scissors (two class-1 levers), pliers (two class-1 levers), hammer claws (one class-1 lever), nutcrackers (two class-2 levers), and tongs (two class-3 levers).

A Class 1 Lever. A Class 2 Lever. A Class 3 Lever.

LIFE SAVERS The candy called "Life Savers" was invented in 1912 by Clarence Crane, a chocolate maker from Cleveland, Ohio. His original Life Saver was a life-preserver-shaped peppermint candy called "Pep-O-Mint." Crane designed it as a summer candy - one that would not melt in the summer heat. He bought a pill-making machine to make the candies, and then punched a hole in the middle. Since they looked like little life preservers, he called them Life Savers. In 1913, he sold the rights to his candy to Edward Noble for only $2,900. Noble then sold Life Savers in many flavors, including the original peppermint. There are now 24 flavors; they are manufactured in Holland, Michigan.

LIGHT BULB The first incandescent electric light was made in 1800 by Humphry Davy, an English scientist. He experimented with electricity and invented an electric battery. When he connected wires to his battery and a piece of carbon, the carbon glowed, producing light. This is called an electric arc. Much later, in 1860, the English physicist Sir Joseph Wilson Swan (1828-1914) was determined to devise a practical, long-lasting electric light. He found that a carbon paper filament worked well, but burned up quickly. In 1878, he demonstrated his new electric lamps in Newcastle, England. The inventor Thomas Alva Edison (in the USA) experimented with thousands of different filaments to find just the right materials to glow well and be long-lasting. In 1879, Edison discovered that a carbon filament in an oxygen-free bulb glowed but did not burn up for 40 hours. Edison eventually produced a bulb that could glow for over 1500 hours. The incandescent bulb revolutionized the world.

LINCOLN LOGS Lincoln Logs are a popular children's toy building set that consists of interlocking notched logs. Children can easily make log cabins and other structures from the tiny wooden logs. Lincoln Logs were invented in 1916 by John Lloyd Wright (1892-1972), an architect and one of the five children of the world-famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright. John patented his toy in 1920, and sold the logs through his toy company, the Red Square Toy Company. Playskool bought the rights to Lincoln Logs in 1943.

LIPPERSHEY, HANS Hans Lippershey (1570-1619) was a German-born Dutch lens maker who demonstrated the first refracting telescope in 1608, made from two lenses; he applied for a patent for this optical refracting telescope (using 2 lenses) in 1608, intending it for use as a military device. A refracting telescope uses two lenses to magnify what is viewed; the large primary lens does most of the magnification.

LIQUID PAPER Liquid Paper is a quick-drying, paper-colored (white) liquid that is painted onto paper to correct printed material. Liquid Paper was invented in 1951 by Bessie Nesmith (1922-1980). It was based on white tempera paint (Nesmith was also an artist). Nesmith was a secretary in Texas, USA, before the time of word processors. She began selling her vastly popular invention, and soon ran the very successful Liquid Paper company. Her son, Michael Nesmith, was a member of the rock group called the Monkees.

LUNDSTROM, J.E. Safety matches were invented by Johan Edvard Lundstrom of Sweden in 1855. Lundstrom's new match was the first simple and safe way to make a fire. His new safety match could only be lit by striking the match against the specially-prepared surface that came attached to the box. Lundstrom put red phosphorus on the rough striking paper (on the outside the match box); the other fire-starting chemicals were on the match's head. Previous matches gave long-time users an ailment called "phossy jaw;" this was a painful and deadly disease caused by the older matchs' yellow phosphorus that ate into the users' jaws.

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  • Guest 9 years ago
    Self cleaning house? I honestly have no clue how does this work but I would immediately purchase a house like this if I could. I always wanted to have a house that will end my war with dust and garbage. It's hard to hold the house clean especially when both you and your wife are working over 10h per day. Even if there is nobody home to produce mess, the dust still appears on different things.