Category Archives: Inventions, per se

What is History but a Gamble?

On more than one occasion, I have used the following expressions (and in no relation to cards or gambling). When the chips are down Forcing someone’s hand Hitting the jackpot All bets are off The deck is stacked A few cards short a deck These terms, which originated as expressions associated with gambling, are now part of our common vernacular. If you think about it, some of the most historical… Read More »

A History of Corrective Lenses

There are some innovations in our contemporary lifestyles that have become so commonplace that we can’t imagine life without them: electricity and plumbing, of course, and a few more everyday implements.  What would you do without, say, your glasses/contacts/laser eye surgery? If you use glasses or contacts, they’re probably the first things you reach for in the morning. You need them to read, drive, and sometimes just to make out… Read More »

Which Side Had the Most Hot Air?

Both the Union and Confederate armies used hot air balloons for spying during the Civil War. Their use marked the first time any aeronautical device was used for war purposes in the United States. Balloons had been used previously for civilian purposes but it wasn’t until Thaddeus Lowe met with Abraham Lincoln in June 1861 that they were considered for use in war. Lowe, a professional aeronaut, demonstrated before the… Read More »

The Origins of the Microwave Oven: Messy and Full of Peanuts

Can you imagine a life without a microwave oven? Microwaves grant us a way to heat even the most frozen foods in mere moments without needing to wait for a fire to kindle or an oven to warm. It’s difficult for many people to envision a situation where they wouldn’t be able to have hot food on demand at any time of the day. The appliances are so ubiquitous and… Read More »

The New Religions of the 20th Century

The New Religions of the 20th Century (Guest Post) The 20th century is a remarkable time in history. It was a time of sweeping and radical change in the world, social experimentation, and scientific advancement. Every century there are new cults and spinoffs of older religions that appear and establish themselves. Many die out before they ever really get going, but a few, like Mormonism from the 19th century, take root and… Read More »

Joseph von Fraunhofer ─ The Father of the Spectrometer

Joseph von Fraunhofer: The Father of the Spectrometer (Guest Post) To the average layperson, that title wouldn’t seem particularly important, but the average layperson would be wrong. Joseph von Fraunhofer is the reason that we know what the sun is made of. His invention has given humanity the tools to figure out what the sun is made of. We can use it to measure the age of light, or to determine… Read More »