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Sometime in the year 1948, Swiss engineer Georges de Mestral, as so often, went hunting with his Irish pointer. Afterwards, as so often, he was annoyed by the tangles that clung to his pants and socks and especially to his dog's coat. Cleavers is a plant that has thousands of small hooks to spread its seed on the seed pods. It is an intelligent plant that spreads its seed efficiently. And over and over again, the Mestral had to pick the nasty little balls from his dog's coat.

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Safety razor


It's no secret that Willem Elsschot hated the American influence on our culture. As a one-man boycott, he refused to use American products for many years. With the exception of the Gillette razors, as he thought they were French in origin. However, nothing is more American than Gillette. On the other hand, Elsschot was also somewhat right: the first Gillettes were indeed Huguenots, French Protestants from Bergerac, near Bordeaux, who had fled first to England and later to America for the persecution.

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Seat belt

Nils Ivar Bohlin

The three-point seat belt in the car is an invention of the Swedish engineer Nils Ivar Bohlin. He was employed by car manufacturer Volvo when he obtained his patent in 1958. Certainly in motorsport, the seat belt is as old as the car itself. But it happened over and over again that reckless drivers driving without seat belts were not left a scratch in an accident, while others, tightly strapped, were killed under their tipping car. Was a seat belt a curse or a blessing? Some brands, Porsche for example, already had an optional lap belt, a two-point belt, in the 1950s. Others did not want to know about a seat belt because the belt suggested that their car was not safe.

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Robert Augustus Chesebrough was a chemist by trade. He was educated in London and tried to make a living in Brooklyn, New York, around the mid-1800s. Among other things, with the sale of kerosene, a type of petroleum that was used for petroleum lamps. At the time, those lamps were the most modern form of home lighting. In 1859, the first oil well had been drilled in Titusville, Pennsylvania. Chesebrough heard of the rush in the oil fields and of the drilling rigs rising like mushrooms from the ground. Some people got rich quickly, the Rockefellers for example. Obviously, they could use a chemical talent like his over there.

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USB stick

One fine day in 1998, Dov Moran, an Israeli of Polish descent, had to give a PowerPoint presentation to a group of two hundred New York investors. Had he not closed his notebook properly so that the battery was flat? Something went wrong, but what? In any case, the thing didn't make a sound. And he simply had no backup on hand. As he desperately clicked on 'start', he saw his acquaintances sitting in the front row who certainly had a laptop with them. They could have helped him. The all-important presentation was destroyed. At the time, Moran was working for a US military company as a consultant for a new type of computer data storage.

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Earl Silas Tupper was born the son of a small farmer in Berlin, New Hampshire. His mother ran a small boarding house and his father Earnest invented all sorts of things to simplify the work on the farm and in the greenhouses. He received a patent on one of these, a skeleton for cleaning chickens. Earl clearly had his father's inventing. After high school he continued to work in his parents' greenhouses. As a young man, he announced to anyone who wanted to hear that he was determined to make his first million dollars before he turned 30.

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It is not self-evident that someone who has been awarded the Nobel Prize for developing the transistor and also carries the title 'father of Silicon Valley' will also appear in an encyclopedia of sexuality. Nevertheless, Bill Shockley is quoted in a Dutch translation as early as 1970 under the keyword "eugenics": "The research into the factors that could improve the hereditary characteristics of the human race." Quote: 'Shockley therefore considers it imperative that all women are rendered infertile before the first menstrual period and that they should only be released from the contraceptive with the consent of a doctor. After every delivery, every woman must be rendered sterile again by means of a subcutaneous injection. '

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Many scientists have worked on the development of the thermometer, but the man who was the first to get two thermometers to display identically the same temperature, which enabled serial production, is undoubtedly Daniel Gabriel Fahrenheit. Remarkably little has been published about Fahrenheit. Perhaps because the Dutch consider him a German and the Germans consider him a Dutchman. Fahrenheit was born in 1686 as the eldest of five children to a merchant family in the Prussian Hanseatic city of Danzig (now Gdansk). His grandfather had moved to Danzig from the Hanseatic city of Koningsbergen (Kaliningrad).

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John Logie Baird

When Scotsman John Logie Baird was twelve, in 1900, he installed a telephone line connecting his attic room to the homes of four friends. A stunt that came to light one night when a coachman was thrown from the trestle by a loose wire. Young Baird was in frail health, but he was spry enough to build a small dynamo powered by a waterwheel that supplied power for the family home. Or he managed to photograph himself sleeping in his bed. It wasn't until he was seventeen that he was physically strong enough to go to school for the first time. He studied engineering and became fascinated by the possibility of converting light into electrical signals by means of selenium.

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On the morning of April 6, 1938, Roy Plunkett arrived at the Du Pont de Nemours labs in New Jersey as he does every day. He was 28 years old, had only completed his chemistry degree for two years, and was tasked with developing a new, non-toxic refrigerant for refrigerators. A few days earlier, he had filled a metal tube with tetrafluoroethylene, a little-used gas that may have had cooling properties. His assistant had just removed the lid from the tube when he entered. "Nothing comes out at all," said the man. "Strange," said Plunkett, "we need to investigate." Was there a valve stuck in the cylinder? They pulled a wire through the tube, but it turned out to be completely open.

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