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The Science Heroes in this Table of Contents have contributed to making the world a better place.  We believe they should be honored.


You Think????
Surprising and unexpected candidates
Bell, Alexander Graham
Berners-Lee, Tim
Gillette, King Camp
Lenormand, Louis-Sebastien
Manby, George William
Renault, Louis
Shaw, Percy
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userMaleSmall Alexander Graham Bell

Have you Ever Been Saved by the Bell?  Calling for Help Has Saved Many Lives!



March 3, 1847- August 2, 1922
Edinburgh, Scotland

Hold on - I'm receiving a text message: “How R U? I'm fine. Let's go roller sk8ting 2nite. Skool sux. Lol!” We're all familiar with texting, but the inventor who made texting possible, via his creation of the telephone, is Alexander Graham Bell. Bell's device was famously demonstrated on March 10, 1876, when he spoke into a transmitter the immortal phrase: “Mr. Watson, come here- I want to see you”. Watson, in another room, could clearly make out Bell's request, and walked over to see Bell. Bell had been working for years by that point, experimenting with different aspects of his soon-to-be breakthrough. His precursor products were labeled “harmonic telegraph”, “phonautograph”, and “acoustic telegraph”. The substance which worked best in transmission turned out to be water. This caused a controversy which would follow Bell for decades. That's because the same day (February 14, 1876) he had his telephone patent tendered to the US patent office, a rival inventor, Elisha Gray, had filed a caveat with the Patent Office which was also based on water as the phone transmitter. Bell would be in and out of court for a long time defending his patent on this point. Bell had not been taken seriously for his research prior to that time, but eventually, Bell's telephone caught on worldwide. He initially made money giving presentations on the use of his phone, but over time, the company he created, the Bell Telephone Company, would reap millions and millions of dollars in wealth. Bell also worked extensively with the deaf, being influenced by the early deafness of his mother. The great inventor was involved in other firsts as well, including hydrofoils and air flight. Bell had 18 patents individually, along with an additional 14 patents in joint projects. In 1888, Bell was the prime mover for the creation of the National Geographic Society. Bell was the recipient of numerous awards and recognitions, including France's Volta Prize; statues erected in his honor in Canada; and honorary degrees from prestigious academic centers like Gallaudet College and Harvard University, to name a few. Think of all the emergencies averted and lives saved because of the telephone. There is no way to count them, but it has been a real lifeline to many, many people.

Invent reference

Biography entry

Wikipedia entry

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userMaleSmall Tim Berners-Lee

The Internet Bring Knowledge and with that Power to Everyone.  Knowledge Can Save a Life!


June 8, 1955
London, England

So, you're sitting down at your computer, and what's the first thing you type? Why, its “www”, which stands for “world wide web”. Ever wonder who was behind the creation of this important feature of your daily life? The person to thank is Tim Berners-Lee. Lee's Christmas present to the world was the invention of the World Wide Web on December 25, 1990. Lee's research was provided, at no charge, to everyone. This breakthrough heralded the onset of the internet age which was to follow. The unassuming inventor was knighted by Queen Elizabeth for his work in 2003. The English scientist also is a strong advocate for net neutrality, a policy of no impediments placed on users by internet service providers (ISPs). As a side note, Lee made an interesting admission in an interview in 2009 about his invention. Lee said that the double backslash “//” was unnecessary. So, all this time, we've been doing extra work!! But, all his work has transformed the world and the information age took off, enabling faster advancements and data sharing as well as all the entertainment.

BBC source

Technology Review website

Wikipedia entry

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userMaleSmall King Camp Gillette

That was a Close One -Think How Many Cuts Have Been Prevented Due to the Safety Razor!

January 5, 1855 – July 9, 1932
Fond du Lac, Wisconsin

The buzzing alarm rudely interrupts your relaxing dream. It's 6:00 am in the morning, and you have to drag yourself out of bed to get ready for class. Ugh!? After your shower, what do you have to do? If you're a guy, you shave your face. If you're a young lady, you shave your legs. Either gender has likely used, at some point in their life, safety razors. Gillette razors are named after their inventor, King Camp Gillette. In the early part of the 20th century, Gillette noticed that bottle caps were repeatedly thrown away, and that gave him the brilliant idea to make money by selling disposable razors. However, there was no disposable razor at that time. Gillette was able to persuade William Nickerson, an engineer of MIT to design it in 1901. The result is history: Gillette's disposable razor rocked the world. By WWI, the entire US military issued Gillette razors to all the troops. His empire continued to grow, eventually reaching $57 billion dollars when Gillette was sold to Proctor & Gamble in 2005. By that time it featured a number of product lines, from triple-blade razors to shaving cream to toothache treatments. Gillette himself was not so fortunate as his company. During the Great Depression, Gillette was financially wiped out and died almost bankrupt. Ironically, the man who had such great success as a capitalist was a socialist.

MIT reference

Inventors About link

Wikipedia entry

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userMaleSmall Louis-Sebastien Lenormand

Geronimoooooo.... Would You Jump Out of an Airplane Without a Parachute?

May 25, 1757 – December 1837
Montpelier, France

If you're afraid of heights, stop reading now.  Everyone else, do you know who the person was who created the term “parachute” and made the first successful, publicly viewed human jump? Why, that would be Louis-Sebastien Lenormand. In 1783, Lenormand jumped off a tower of the Montpelier Observatory in France with a prototype of today's parachute. Lenormand's device was a wood-structured parasol, and his leap was made before a small crowd of aghast onlookers. Louis-Sebastien was a physicist by calling. He was first a Catholic monk, but during the French Revolution, was pressured to leave his order, then got married. He eventually returned to his priestly ways after the Revolution, and went by the name of Brother Chrysostom.

Wikipedia entry

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userMaleSmall George William Manby

Fire in the House?  You Need an Extinguisher!


November 28, 1765 – November 18, 1854
Denver, Norfolk, England

We've all heard of groupies - those people that hang around at concerts, trying desperately to attract the attention of some musical phenom. Did you know that groupies existed hundreds of years ago? Well, an earlier example of a groupie was George William Manby. Manby lived in the late 18th and early 19 centuries. He wanted to impress the British government by volunteering to fight against the colonies in the American Revolutionary War, only to be refused because he was too short. He also offered to assassinate Napoleon Bonaparte – London authorities turned him down. He became fixated on Horatio Nelson, the great English commander and hero of Trafalgar, going so far as to build a museum for Nelson. It's unclear if Nelson ever knew Manby, but Manby was undeterred in his devotion. The good news about Manby was that he made some successful inventions, like the first fire extinguisher. His creation consisted of a copper container with 3 gallons of calcium carbonate (pearl ash), powered by compressed air. Manby also devised the Manby Mortar: that was a small hand held canon which fired into the air to rescue shipwrecked passengers. Manby's work benefited his countrymen, and, because he wanted the recognition, he expected to be knighted for his endeavors. Alas, he won a number of lesser awards, but never the coveted knighthood.

Boating World reference

Norfolk Museums cite

Wikipedia entry

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userMaleSmall Louis Renault

We Would All Be Broke if It Weren't for Brakes!


February 12, 1877 – October 24, 1944
Paris, France

You're driving to a party, but your friend's house is on a steep hill. When you get there, to give added protection for your car, so that it doesn't roll down the incline, you put on the emergency brake. That brake is based on technology first invented over 100 years ago in 1902. It is called the drum brake. The mechanical genius who came up with this product was Louis Renault. You may have heard of the name Renault as a line of European cars. The founder of the company was a then young man of 25 who devised this vehicle halting device. The drum brake uses a shoe which, when the brake pedal is applied, pushes up against the drum of the wheel, slowing down and stopping the car. Nowadays, disc brakes are the device of choice, except for parking brakes. As for Louis Renault, he became a very famous and wealthy industrialist in France with his auto production, specializing in racing cars. Renault's creative accomplishments even won him the French Legion of Honor after WWI for his development of France's Renault FT-17 tank. What's more, Renault's company was the number one manufacturer of aircraft engines for the Western Powers during World War I. However, fortune turned sour for Renault during WWII. After the Nazis occupied France, Renault became a collaborator with the Vichy government, the administration chosen by Hitler to run the country. Once the Allies kicked the Germans out in 1944, Renault was arrested for his complicity with the pro-Berlin regime, and his company was seized by the new French government. Renault died under arrest, and there are accusations that he was killed during a wave of unofficial executions of 9,000 French citizens who were charged with working for the Third Reich.

Automotive Hall of Fame website

Auto News link

Wikipedia “Renault” entry
Wikipedia “Drum brake” reference

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userMaleSmall Percy Shaw

It Was a Dark & Stormy Night... You Can Still See to Drive if Your Road Has Reflectors


April 15, 1890 – September 1, 1976
Halifax, West Yorkshire, England

What was the greatest scientific invention of WWII? Radar? The V-2 rocket? The Atomic Bomb? How about the modest Cat's Eye reflecting device? The what? That's right; the Cat's Eye reflecting device received the most votes for the greatest design, not just of the Second World War, but of the whole 20th Century, according to the Daily Telegraph newspaper of the UK. You've seen a successor to the Cat's Eye if you've driven on the interstate at night. Those reflecting lights embedded on the road surface owe their popularity to Percy Shaw, the Englishman who invented the Cat's Eye in 1934. The Cat's Eye is simply a hard rubber mound, with reflective spheres in the middle, which is built into asphalt surfaces. Shaw's patent would provide a way for the country of Britain to maneuver around roads under blackouts during the Blitz of WWII, when streetlights were turned off to make it harder for Nazi bombers to identify targets in the United Kingdom. There are different versions of just what inspired Shaw to develop his device, but the most popular is that Shaw spied a cat, on a foggy night on a dark road. The cat's eyes reflected his car's headlamps, and thus the Cat's Eye reflector was born. Shaw himself was somewhat of an odd fellow. He tore out the carpets and got rid of the furniture in his home, in his later years. He liked to leave 3 TV sets on, at low volume. His favorite auto was a Rolls Royce Phantom. As for his creation, eventually over 20 million Cat's Eyes have been placed on English roadsides. Later versions of the Cat's Eye use solar power and LED technology.

Inventors entry

Telegraph reference

Wikipedia entry

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