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He wasn’t the only scientist who owed a discovery to a fearsome wife (BOB FENSTER)

He wasn’t the only scientist who owed a discovery to a fearsome wife (BOB FENSTER)

Inventor Charles Goodyear lived in poverty when he wasn’t stuck in debtors’ prison because none of his inventions worked. He was a man sparked by ideas that had great promise and no realization.

Failure, debt, doubt, the urge to tinker, and the need to stop tinkering and get an honest job those were his constant, clashing companions.

Finally, Goodyear promised his wife that he’d stop conducting experiments in their kitchen and find a job that paid the bills.

Of course, he didn’t. The man was an inventor. But he knew he was in trouble one day when he heard his wife coming up the stairs, home early. Instead of looking for a job, he’d been experimenting again with attempts to vulcanize rubber to avoid antagonizing his wife, he quickly swept his experiment into the kitchen stove. The stove was still hot, which is why Goodyear finally succeeded with one of his crazy experiments, discovering the process for creat ing heat-resistant rubber.

There’s your dumb move turning into a good idea. But desp the importance of that invention, Goodyear died broke anyway.

Oddly, or perhaps not. Goodyear wasn’t the only scientist who owed a discovery to a fearsome wife.

German inventor Christian Schönbein discovered smokeless gunpowder when he spilled one of his experiments in his wife’s kitchen. Afraid that she would soon return and discover the accident, he mopped up the chemical spill with his wife’s apron, then set the apron in front of the fire to dry.

The apron exploded because of cellulose nitration, and Schonbein had a new invention to market.

 

 

 

 

 

Duh!: The Stupid History of the Human Race

BOB FENSTER



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