100 Fixing the Calendar 1582

   The Accidental Vulcan 1839

Download 80.5 Kb.
Size80.5 Kb.
1   ...   38   39   40   41   42   43   44   45   ...   99
58   The Accidental Vulcan 1839 
Who can examine it," asked Charles Goodyear of rubber, his lifelong obsession, "without glorifying God?" Whether or not we share the 19th century inventor's fanaticism, the object of his passion--the basis for some 40,000 products, including electrical casings, tennis balls, condoms, erasers and, most of all, tires--is indispensable in our modern lives. Made from latex, a gum originally found in South American trees, the substance had been around at least since Columbus watched natives bounce rubber balls in Hispaniola. But by the early 1800s, when a small industry developed, consisting mostly of boots and life preservers, it became clear the stuff did not hold up: In the winter it would harden like rock and in heat ooze into a sticky mess. 

A Connecticut native not known for his financial prowess, Goodyear was determined to make rubber commercially viable. While incarcerated in debtors' prison, he began mixing raw rubber with everything from witch hazel to cream cheese. In 1839 he accidentally spilled a drop of rubber and sulfur on his burning stove. He had discovered the process of vulcanization, named for the Roman god of fire, and set the stage for the business boom spurred by the advent of cars. But Goodyear failed to secure the rights to his discovery. When he died, he left behind scores of suggestions for rubber's applications--the inflatable tire, alas, not one of them--and a $200,000 debt. 

Download 80.5 Kb.

Share with your friends:
1   ...   38   39   40   41   42   43   44   45   ...   99

The database is protected by copyright ©essaydocs.org 2023
send message

    Main page