The world is full of some great inventions that have transformed the world. The computer, the smart phone, the radio. But there are lots of little gadgets and products on the market that have really changed things, and we aren’t really aware of it. Below are 6 of our favorites.
1. Duct Tape
Duct tape is not just one of the most useful products on earth. It also has been used in space. That’s right. Duct tape was used to make ship repairs in space and on the moon. Mythbusters have actually constructed a boat and a car held together with duct tape. The Brookhaven National Lab even temporarily fixed their particle accelerator with the stuff.
2. The Spray Can
In the early 1940s, the USDA used a refrigerant that was discovered a few years before – Freon – to allow the deployment of a deadly bug spray for US soldiers who were fighting in the Pacific. The bug spray was held in the first aerosol spray can that was powered by Freon-12, and contained sesame oil and pyrethrum (a powerful insecticide).
3. The Bra
Caresse Crosby was a publisher in the 1920s who in Paris helped to make D.H. Lawrence and Earnest Hemingway famous. Many years earlier, she started a fashion revolution that lives on today. She and a maid created the first bra with 2 handkerchiefs, a ribbon and a piece of cord. She got a patent for what she called ‘the backless brassiere’ in 1914. She sold the patent to the Warner Brothers Corset Company for the sum of $1500. She later said, “I can’t say the bra will ever take as great a place in history as the steamboat, but I did invent it.”
4. Picnic Cooler
After World War 2, Americans wanted to go off into the woods and to the beach for vacations. They needed something in which they could keep their beer, soda and sandwiches cool and fresh. The first portable cooler was patented in 1953 and was made popular by the Coleman Company.
Roy Plunkett discovered polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) at the research lab of DuPont in 1938. He was working with gases that were related to Freon at the time. Plunkett accidentally froze and compressed some of the gas into a substance that was solid and waxy. The polymer he created is so slippery that almost nothing will stick to it or be absorbed by it. These days, companies put it on their cookware after they roughen the surface of the pan by sandblasting it. The nonstick coating is usually called Teflon and is mixed into a primer that is put onto the sandblasted surface of the pan.
6. Can Opener
Canned food has been with us since the early 19th century and the British Navy. But the can opener we all know and love did not come into being until 1870. At that time, an American named Wiilliam Lyman came up with a very simply product with a sharp wheel that rolled around the rim of the can.
It is a good thing that he came up with this ingenious device: The can-opening instructions for sailors in Great Britain used to read, “Cut round the top near the outer edge with chisel and hammer.”