Do you know these odd facts?

Published 11:59 pm Friday, June 12, 2009

These days I do a little research for my husband as he has the main character of his books, Reverend Alabaster Armstrong, travel and get into dangerous situations at home and abroad. One time I might research airplanes, another radio, another who knows what. During those searches I often jot down fascinating facts I run across. Here’s a few:

Did you know that 24-year-old Air Force Capt. Chuck Yeager was suffering from two broken ribs when he made history breaking the sound barrier with his Bell X-1 rocket plane, Glamorous Glennis, in October 1947?

Did you know that a Canadian engineer made the world’s first public radio broadcast from Brant Rock, Mass., a small village near Boston on Christmas Eve 1906? It was heard by ships as far away as 100 miles.

Have any idea where, when and by whom the ball point pen was invented? Hungarian brothers George and Ladislao Biro of Budapest invented it in the 1930s.

Would you believe that a walk in the woods in 1948 inspired a Swiss engineer to come up with the idea of Velcro, that wonderful fastener we find so many uses for today? In 1948, he and his dog returned from their walk with burrs stuck on his socks and his pet. He inspected the burrs under a microscope and found how the ends caught in wool loops. He then devised a method of reproducing that process in woven nylon. The name Velcro was a combination of the words velour and crochet. He obtained a patent in 1955 for it. Lucky for us.

Gideon Sundback, an electrical engineer, designed the zipper as we know it today. He worked for a fastener company and improved on earlier inventions. The popular “zipper” name came from the B. F. Goodrich Company, when they decided to use it on a new type of rubber boots or galoshes. It is said that the name came from the sound it makes when you zip up or down.

Did you know that the yo-yo is considered the second oldest toy in history? (The oldest is the doll.) In ancient Greece, they were made of wood, metal and terra cotta.

Did you know that microwave energy from our microwave ovens doesn’t heat our glass or china containers? Why? They don’t absorb energy. The food absorbs all the energy, which, in turn, heats the containers.

Have you ever wondered how the toothpaste folks get those stripes in toothpaste? Here’s how it works. One area of the tube represents the material used for stripes, and the rest is the main toothpaste material. The two materials are not in separate compartments; they are sufficiently gummy so that they will not mix. Applying pressure to the tube causes the main material to issue out through the pipe.

Simultaneously, some of the pressure is forwarded to the stripe-material, which is then pressed onto the main material through holes in the pipe. Thus stripes appear in the toothpaste. Clever, isn’t it?