The USB ‘memory stick’ (or ‘flash drive’, as it is commonly known) is a small storage device used for computers that implements ‘flash memory’ technology, and connects to computer systems via a USB (Universal Serial Bus) port. A flash drive is designed to be both portable and rewritable, with very large storage capacities considering their size. A primary purpose of the memory stick is that they can transferring data between two different computer system. But who created this innovation of technology?
The need for the flash drive came about after the computer developed to the extent that the original method of portable storage, the floppy disc, was seen as too slow and small (file size (up to 1.44MB of data)) for modern machines.
In 2000, IBM, together with Trek Technology, invented and sold the first-ever USB flash drives. Trek Technology, a Singaporean company, named their product the “thumb drive” due to its physical size.
Although the first memory sticks had a storage capacity of only 8MB (still a large improvement on floppy disks), the product would develop into an even more functional piece of technology, with storage sizes now as high as 258GB.
With a huge marketing potential, and by being sold in different shapes and sizes for novelty value, it is fair to say that the USB memory stick is one of the most important accessories to a modern computer system today. For the more confused customer, though, this video helps to explain further aspects of the device, and what ‘type’ is suitable for different people:
It is one of the items in any household that is taken for granted…. until it runs out. It is also an item which few sane people want to discuss in detail, for obvious reasons, which could be a reason as to why the answer to the interesting yet disturbing question of ‘Who Invented Toilet Paper’ is not widely known.
The sole inventor of the product could probably not be singled out, but it was the ancient Chinese (around 14th century), who would first manufacture paper as an alternative to less convenient methods from around the world, such as grass or leaves, a corncob stick (America), or a person’s own hand (Middle East). The use of paper would be adopted the Americans and other developed areas in the next few centuries, but this would come from old and unwanted newspapers or catalogues.
The use of tissue paper for the toilet-based purpose did not come around until 1880, by the Scott Paper company in the USA. The use of it would eventually catch on furhter afield, with other companies beggining to sell their version, and the product would develop in stages to the version seen today.
The market for the product is a large one, with it being sold on the basis of being a near necessity to avoid embarrassment. This has led to companies attempting to make memorable innovations or adverts to attract customers, as seen in this attempt from 1994, featuring the famous ‘Andrex puppy’:
A relatively unnoticed or unused item in many of today’s insulated and heated homes, but for people in lesser-equipped houses, colder climates, or outdoor activities in the winter months, a thermos flask can be key to keeping that refreshing hot drink at a toasty temperature, and keep cold drinks… not frozen, with any drink now able to be taken in as fresh as when it was made. Who came up with this small and portable, yet powerful insulator for liquid?
The answer is James Dewar, a physicist and chemist from Scotland, first came up with the idea of the ‘vacuum flask‘ (also known as the ‘Dewar flask’ at the time) in 1892. After a German scientist Reinhold Burger made a similar discovery, that it could keep hot drinks warm, he created a company to sell the flasks (it would be sold on a few years later) starting in 1904 under the company name of Thermos GmbH, the only trader of the device at the time. The business soon took off with the public, and due to its unique brand name, adopted the flasks to be known as ‘thermos’.
The product would be the recipient of several innovation-based awards, and the company grew its invention to test new materials, sizes, and purposes (such as a food jar). As well as being a crucial drinks-carrying device for the British military during World War II, the flask would also be used in scientific experiments for atomic energy. The product would continue to grow, and now can be used to maintain the condition of, and transport important medical material, such as blood transfusions, amongst a wide range of uses.
Today, thermos flasks are made from either plastic, metal or glass, and with the use of hollow walls and a vacuum-based insulator, any possible heat transfer is prevented when the cap (which often doubles as a drinking cup) is on. The video below from German TV (audio in English) demonstrates the basic function of the product, and the history of it in Germany:
coke and mentos did not take off in popular culture until 2006, when two journalists (David Kestenbaum and Michele Norris) released a blog based on it
It is not normally socially acceptable to play with your food, but in the instance of a ‘coke and mentos eruption’, the entertainment value can throw that perception out of the window. Who introduced the world to this bizzare application of science?
Despite the experiment being shown and explained on a TV chat show in 1999 (by physics student Spencer Tyler), ‘coke and mentos‘ did not take off in popular culture until 2006, when two journalists (David Kestenbaum and Michele Norris) released a blog based on it, and within months video sharing websites such as YouTube were packed with new videos of people trying the creation of a carbonate beverage-based explosion for themselves.
After many tried efforts with a variety of mints (or even fruit-flavoured ‘mentos’) and drinks (such as lemonade) in combination, it is regarded that the combination for a big explosion is to use Diet Coke and Original Mint-flavoured Mentos. This ‘formula’ provides the quickest reaction, and therefore the ‘highest’ explosion, with the Guiness World Record height for an explosion measuring at over 9 meters (with the aid of a nozzle). A testament to the popularity of the ‘coke and mentos’ explosions is that some joke shops now sell mentos with the advertised purpose of causing explosions.
An example of this bizzare experiment can be seen in the video below:
The Segway is one of the most innovative methods of transportation developed in recent years, but who was it that came up with this odd, self-balancing, and expensive alternative to walking?
The patent of the Segway design and machine will agknowlege American Dean Kamen as its inventor. The two wheeled machine was created by Kamen in 2001 and sales began around a year afterwards. The Segway was also known as Ginger and IT during its development stage. Ginger was in fact a product of the IBOT wheelchair technology that Kamen was working on. The Ginger was developed while Kamen was at the University of Plymouth.
Now being sold as a well-known device around the world, for those that can afford it, the Segway has developed products for more specific uses, such as security / police work, playing golf, and riding over difficult terrain. The company estimates that over 50,000 Segway units (all models) had been sold since the initial release.
Despite criticisms of its nature and price, the Segway has been seen as a marketable device, even if to some it is just for the novelty factor, but it is clear that the creators do take their product seriously, as seen by this extended advertisement: