International language, Newton’s Law, most modern sports – British scientists have made some of the most important discoveries, without which it is impossible to imagine our modern lives. We’ve decided to find out who to thank for which inventions.
1. A programmable computer
The prehistory of electronics is as suspenseful as detective novels and love sonnets. Before the modern laptops and computers that we now use, watch films and play top casino online UK, scientists across Europe were developing theories and literally predicting what artificial intelligence would be capable of. One of the greatest “mediums” can be considered the English mathematician and engineer Charles Babbage.
Two years before his undergraduate degree at St Peter’s, the young man envisioned a mechanism that would make life easier for his colleagues and produce complex calculations with enviable accuracy all on its own. His inspiration came in 1812, when Charles was examining logarithmic tables and found errors. Of course, the blunders were due to human error, so it was better to entrust the computational work to a mechanical machine. The idea was a good one, but it took another twenty years of close acquaintance with astronomy and a couple of experimental machines to bring it to fruition.
Attempts to create a clever machine fiasco, despite sponsorships, so from 1833 Babbage set about designing an analytical machine capable of performing more tasks than its predecessors. A year later, the United Kingdom applauded the new marvel of technology – Charles Babbage’s analytical machine, which had all the essential logical capabilities of a modern PC.
Shoelaces have a rather confusing history. If we consider the etymology, the word “shoelace” comes from the German language and literally translated as “thin twine” or “rope”. However, the real embodiment of shoelace came thanks to Irish-born Harvey Kennedy.
On 27 March 1790, the inventor presented a simple design, which resembled laces on Greek sandals or Russian sandals. However, it was only Harvey who came up with the idea of perfecting and patenting a pair of metal-tipped ropes. Since then, ladies and gentlemen no longer suffered from buckles and buttons, and Kennedy himself made a fortune and emigrated to North America.
We all know what the railway locomotive that took Harry Potter to Hogwarts looks like and spewed out puffs of steam. According to history, the prototype vehicle was built in the early 19th century by a mining engineer named Richard Trevithick. He had originally planned to build a self-propelled wagon to help the Colbrookdale Company iron foundry, but he outdid himself.
The fact was that steam transport required a compact yet powerful engine. Trevithick built something similar in 1800 for a mine hoist, and a year later he improved it by raising the pressure in the boiler to two atmospheres. For the third time, the engineer put a steam locomotive on the road tracks and set off on a mini-voyage across Wales. Trevithick ironically named his firstborn, the “Puffing Devil”. Despite the fact that the first steam locomotive fell apart in less than a year from the jolting bumps, the scientist did not stop there and continued his career, giving travellers the most romantic way to move around the world.
4. The toothbrush
A few centuries ago, hygiene was not such a high priority. Europeans have long preferred to hide greasy hair under wigs and lavishly scented perfume to cover up the smell of sweat. To clean their mouths, they usually used a chewing stick, which was a twig with frayed ends. These everyday scenes can be seen in many feature films, from Shakespeare in Love to Orlando starring Tilda Swinton.
Although archaeologists have found various prototypes of toothbrushes in the tombs of the Qin dynasty and in southern Mesopotamia, the official authorship of the first toothbrush is attributed to the English entrepreneur William Addis. In 1770, the future inventor was imprisoned for rioting in the Spitalfields area, but this did not upset the young man too much. Here’s why: Addis’s dull routine was brightened up by a new hobby – all day long he watched other convicts sweep the floor with a broom, then he made the association with a chewing stick and decided that he could invent a new way to brush his teeth.
One day after dinner he saved a meat bone, waited until after the night off and drilled a small hole in it. Then he cut some bristles from the sleeping guard’s beard, tied them in bundles, inserted them into the holes in the bone and secured them with glue. After his release, William Addis opened a toothbrush business, got rich and bequeathed the company to his eldest son. Incidentally, Addis’s Wisdom Toothbrushes are still manufactured in the UK today and sell well.
Looking at the picture of the creator of the first telephone, you might think he had invented a massive flute or colander to blow bubbles rather than the most important means of communication. In fact we see the world’s first telephone in the hands of Scottish scientist Alexander Graham Bell.
The future genius was born into a family of speech therapists and elocution teachers. His grandfather worked in the theatre as a prompter and his father published A New Elucidation of the Principles of Speech and Elocution. Not surprisingly, having received a prestigious education in Britain, Alexander began to think of a device that would be able to transmit sound using electricity. He shared his idea with renowned American physicist Joseph Henry, who gave the go-ahead for experiments.
The experiments did yield results. The long-awaited event happened on June 2, 1875, when Alexander was working in a workshop in Boston. Together with one of his co-workers, Bell was tuning telegraph machines, closed the contacts and heard a faint echo. Without delay, he made a sketch of a telephone set, which his partner made the very next day. The first telephone session took place in 1876. A few researchers decided to steal Bell’s idea and patent the telephone, but the scientist did not lose heart, filing a lawsuit and registering the most expensive patent in the history of mankind on March 7.
The UK is renowned for its tailoring and quality fabrics, which were born by chance. Think of the story of Thomas Burberry and his rainspotting gabardine. In 1941 another English chemist contributed to the development of modern fashion.
John Rex Winfield spent many years researching polyesters and gained a fibre which was stronger and more resistant than nylon. When the hunt for synthetic fabrics began in the late 1930s, Winfield and his assistant James Tennant Dixon discovered how to condense terephthalic acid and ethylene glycol to produce a new polymer that could be pulled into fibre. The chemist initially christened his brainchild terilene and took out a patent the same year. But due to wartime constraints polyester was not made public until 1946. Thus the fashion industry and the industry got a new material, and James Dixon – immortal fame.
Even now the creation of twins seems like something out of the realm of science fiction, despite the successful experiment carried out in 1966 by British biologist Keith Campbell. The man’s scientific regalia is indeed worthy of respect, but many people know him for a sheep called Dolly.
In short, Dolly is the first warm-blooded animal to be derived from the nucleus of an adult (somatic) cell rather than a sex or stem cell. The starting point of Campbell’s career can be seen in 1991, when he joined a group of scientists working on animal cloning under Ian Wilmut. Five years later, the team eventually succeeded in producing Dolly. In the years that followed, Campbell was involved in pig cloning and research into the therapeutic properties of stem cells and, just before his death, was nominated for a Nobel Prize.
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