Tech Tips – Did You Know?

Inspiration comes in many different forms of understanding and transformation. While it is really easy to focus on a smaller picture or the negative influences in the world around us, there is much more going on that the daily news cycle may not cover.  In our December 2014 Tech Tips, we’d like to bring you some of those neat ideas and inventions humanity has created throughout the ages that might not get the coverage they deserve.  Nonetheless, they’ve played an important role in how we live our lives today.

Aerosol Spray Can

Invented it 1926 by Erik Rotheim, a Norwegian engineer, it was made useful until 1941 when the US military used it to spray insecticide for malaria-carrying mosquitoes.  In the 1980s, Motley Crue used it to make other metal bands jealous of their awesome hairdos via Aquanet and bad taste.  Often controversial due to the use of CFCs as propellants, we’ve gotten smarter in their use by switching to more eco-friendly (yet highly flammable) chemicals.  How does the propellant inside an aerosol can work?  We like to let Wikipedia do the explaining, because the internet is never wrong.



Yes, just what I was thinking.

Mmmm….yes, anyone who has ever taken part in a college calculus course, I’m sure you’d like to know who to “thank” for this invention.  While I say that mostly in jest (my college calculus course was at 8 am, so I may remain a bit cynical), calculus has had huge effects in all parts of our life: aviation, ballistics, heating, cooling, building techniques, and much more.  You can also use it to prove why that movie Interstellar had a really good story, but was completely unbelievable a little light on the scientific theory! There is still considerable debate about who came up with the important concepts of calculus: Sir Isaac Newton or Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz.  To avoid arguments and keep mathematicians from throwing chalk at each other, most accept the two  discovered calculus independently.  Don’t expect to hear anything on this subject on CNN anytime soon.



Pretend like these are cocoa, not coffee beans.

You have a much better chance of hearing about chocolate on the news than most other inventions.  You probably won’t hear about when or how it was discovered, but we sure like to talk about eating it.  Strange, considering that chocolate by itself is pretty bitter.  Given that, I have wondered how it became so popular among the Aztecs.  It turns out they flavored it with vanilla, chili peppers, annatto, and pimento.  They also combined it with other foods like maize and honey.  Europeans (probably the Spanish) are credited with adding sugar to remove the bitterness, and by the 17th century, it was a luxury drink among nobility.  Now, go and read more about chocolate, so you can consider yourself properly educated on such an important subject.

The Parachute


No more parachutes, Dr. Jones.

People were attempting to jump from towers as early as the 9th century with parachutes.  Today, we would call those parachutes “good initiative, bad judgment”.  Due to poor materials technology, they didn’t start making parachutes out of silk until the late 18th century.  While we often think of a person jumping out of a plane when we think “parachute”, they can also be attached to food aid packages, bombs, and to aircraft in order to slow them down on landing.  US Army Captain Albert Barry made the first parachute jump from a moving plane March 1, 1912.  The 101st Airborne Division, known for its paratroopers, wasn’t organized until the end of the first World War.  The army would heavily use this division during World War II and its invasion of Europe.  Want to know more? Go here.

As we move forward into the holiday season, we suggest taking a few moments to appreciate those things you might not think about much anymore.  It is really easy to take something for granted when it is available and in our lives every day.  Taking joy in the smaller things can help your outlook on tackling those bigger challenges that we all face from time to time.




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