Contact lens


One fine day in 1952, Otto Wichterle took a train from the city of Olomouc, in his native region, to the capital, Prague, nearly three hundred kilometers west. He was 39 years old and professor of macromolecular chemistry at the Technical University of Prague. He looked over the shoulder of the man next to him to see what he was reading: a trade magazine article about using titanium in an artificial eye. Wichterle started a conversation with his fellow traveler and said: "It would be much better to look for a solution in plastic, material that connects to the surrounding tissue, for example from the hydrophilic polymers category." The traveler turned out to be an official with the Ministry of Health who examined substances for their use for medical purposes. And so it came about that Wichterle received a government subsidy for research into polymers that retain water, into imitations of human tissue. To develop the new artificial eye, he first practiced with small pieces of plastic. In 1957 he put such a piece on his own eye. It was too rough, it burned, and it was unpleasant. But Wichterle immediately saw - literally and figuratively - that his artificial gel could serve not so much to cast an artificial eye, but to make an artificial lens with which you could adjust the view.

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Many ways of preserving foodstuffs are thousands of years old, such as drying fruit, smoking meat or salting fish. The first artificial method, sterilization in glass jars or cans, dates back to 1804. Nicolas Appert was born in 1752 as the son of an innkeeper in Châlons-sur-Marne. He learned the finer points of cooking from his father. After several years of service in a noble kitchen, in 1780, at the age of 28, he established himself as a pastry chef in the center of Paris.

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May 8, 1945: Victory Day in London. Hundreds of thousands take to the streets. Trafalgar Square is full of people. A German industrialist who was forced to sell his company for a breeze in 1938 and then settled in London, is celebrating. Because Nazi Germany has been defeated, most certainly, but also because he can finally realize the plans he has made for seven years. Because he can rebuild his bombed-out factory in Berlin and resume production in another factory. He is 62, a lot is still possible. Three days later he gets out of bed in the morning, opens the curtains and collapses. A doctor called to the rescue can only determine his death. “His heart could not bear the excitement, especially the joy of returning,” his son Edgar testified.

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Computer mouse

He looks like two drops of water like Mister Q, James Bond's technical right-hand man. He's well-off, but certainly not as rich as Bill Gates, the boss of Microsoft, or all those newly rich guys from Silicon Valley. However, he has made them rich. Doug Engelbart, for example, is the inventor of Windows, the window system on our computer screen. Or hypertext, the technique with which you can jump from one document to another when you click on a word. Or video conferencing where two groups of people can hold discussions with each other via the computer. But Engelbart is also the inventor of the computer mouse, the tool that really made the PC suitable for the living room.

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A complicated machine like the computer obviously has countless fathers, but the man who developed the theory on which all information processing systems are based between May 1935 and May 1936 is undoubtedly superior. His name was Alan Turing and was born in Great Britain. Turing's father worked as a tax officer for the British government in India. Turing's mother also came from a family of Indian travelers. While on vacation in Great Britain, they gave birth to their son Alan for a while and then entrusted him to a foster family. When the boy was fourteen, his father quit his job after a conflict at work. As a result, the Turings returned to England and were financially poor for the rest of their lives. The young Turing fought for one scholarship after another and with great difficulty ended up in Cambridge to study mathematics.

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It is a myth that champagne was invented by Dom Pérignon. Before his birth, here and there, both in England and France, there is already talk of a foaming wine, un vin mousseux. What the Benedictine monk did was standardize its production, make a series of improvements in the grapes to be used, the pressing, the quality of the bottles and the closure. He worked on those improvements for forty-seven years. He is the man who helped champagne a decisive leap forward in centuries of development. And rightly so, he got a statue in Epernay, in the heart of the champagne region.

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Erlich - chemotherapy

How the son of a Silesian innkeeper and liqueur stoker, as a medical student, was seduced by the effects of the new chemical dyes on human tissue, which led, after many years, to the development of a chemical preparation for syphilis, the first chemotherapeutic agent thus aroused the anger of many Germans, because syphilis was simply a punishment from God, you should not defy him by neutralizing his punishments. The sensitive doctor was crushed by public attacks, trials and newspaper articles that led to his early death in 1915, at least according to his wife, because he himself had also greatly facilitated that death.

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Cardan shaft

Every car has a cardan shaft, a drive shaft, a shaft that transmits the movement of the engine to the wheels, and it is named after the Italian doctor, mathematician and astrologer Girolamo Cardano. How could someone who died more than four hundred years ago have come up with a part of the car? Having traveled to Scotland from Milan to save the life of an archbishop, Cardano was renowned throughout Europe as a physician in the mid-sixteenth century. However, his real passion lay in mathematics. He published a book in which he neatly listed the complete mathematical knowledge of his time, and he casually took algebra a few more steps forward. When he ventured into an autobiography (My Life) shortly before his death, he could proudly say that he had solved forty thousand mathematical problems and two hundred thousand smaller problems.

Having traveled to Scotland from Milan to save the life of an archbishop, Cardano was known throughout Europe as a physician in the mid-16th century. However, his real passion was in mathematics.

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Baby buggy

What does it mean if a person comes from the famous Scottish family clan Maclaren? For example, Andrew Maclaren, the father of Owen Finlay Maclaren, when he had to go into military service at the outbreak of the First World War, came to the barracks in a Rolls-Royce. Besides, he had his butler with him. Unfortunately, he died of typhus a few months later. So that we will never know what he wanted to amaze the world with.

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Brain game

ryuta kawashima nintendo

Dr. Ryuta Kawashima, the inventor of the brain games for Nintendo DS, was no doubt destined to amaze the whole world with his thoughts about brain training: of humanity, ”he once told of himself. Kawashima studied medicine, was a visiting researcher in Sweden in 1991 and by then was skilled at creating images of what goes on in the brain.

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