Many inventors in ancient times worked on diving methods. One was Leonardo DeVinci, who around 1500 designed a diving rig that would have worked if better materials had been available. He used leather tubes lined with steel coils to prevent the tubes being crushed.
The tubes extend to a surface float, and air is drawn into the tubes by the divers breathing, with no pump being used. This resulted in a very limited depth that the device would work in. If a diver's lung capacity was 5 liters, if the tubing of his mask had much more than 2 liters capacity, he would not be able get a good breath of air. it doesn't take much tubing to have a capacity of 2, 3 and 4 liters. So this device was definitely a shallow water device more akin to snorkeling than SCUBA. One source thought the device was to help soldiers cross bodies of water, and it would work for that.
Like most of Leonardo's ideas, this design was never published or actually built, and thus did not affect the development of science and technology of the times.
Anita Campbell has great taste in blogs! You can tell by looking at her blog Small Business Trends, and by her favorable review of Patent Pending in her monthly Powerblog review. Anita selects one blog each weekend, and writes an in-depth review of it. All of her selected blogs are related to small businesses, entrepreneurs, business startups, and sites related to those people and their efforts. It was very kind of Anita to include Patent Pending in that group of well received blogs. Thanks!!
Small Business Trends has posts of interest to business people, and often includes pieces written by guest authors, and excerpts from prominant magazines. Reading Small Business Trends keeps you informed from many sources that you wouldn't get otherwise.
In the American West, cattle could not be fenced in because there was not enough wood to make fences, and not enough labor to make stone fences. Cattle were raised on open range, and driven across many states from their home range to the rail heads in Kansas for transport to Eastern markets.
There were many attempts to make a wire fence, but the cattle were strong enough to break most wires. Attempts were made to put barbs on the wire, without success.
An improved barbed wire fence was made by 60 year old Joseph F. Glidden of Dekalb Illinois in 1873. His fence wire was made from two strands of smooth wire, with one wire encrusted with twisted barbs. The two wires were twisted together to secure the barbs, and the two wires proved sturdy enough to stop cattle from breaking the wires. This image from the Devils Rope Museum shows some of the hundreds of barbed wire designs that exist.
It is said that three inventions made settling the arid American West possible: the windmill, barbed wire, and the repeating rifle.
Glidden's design from his patent looks like the common type of barbed wire used today, more than 125 years later.
Forks are a fairly recent addition to the dining table, unlike knives. Knives in some form have been around for millenia, as have spoons. Forks, however, were unknown in Europe until their introduction from the Middle East via Italy. They were introduced to Italy by a Byzantine princess in the 11th century CE, but were scorned as an affectation at first.
"Instead of eating with her fingers like other people, the princess cuts up her food into small pieces and eats them by means of little golden forks with two prongs."[Giblin]
"God in his wisdom has provided man with natural forks - his fingers. Therefore it is an insult to Him to substitute artificial metallic forks for them when eating."[Giblin]
This is a variation on the old saying that if God had intended man to ____________, he would have provided him with ______________ instead of _______________. You can fill in the blanks as the occaision requires.
At first forks were small two tined utensils used to spear fruits in syrup, and were only used by the Italian nobility and upper classes. At the time of the Spanish Armada, forks were used in Spain, but not in England. A British traveler to Europe wrote the first information in England about the fork in 1611, and was widely ridiculed as being affected and effeminate. Gradually, forks became used in England, first by the nobility and upper classes, and much later by the lower classes. Therefore the Pilgrims at the first Thanksgiving in 1621 did not have forks, but the Founding Fathers probably did in 1776, because they were the upper class, the first adopters of forks.
It wasn't until the mid eighteenth century that forks were used in Germany and England, and the early nineteenth century before they began to be commonly used in America. The original two tined fork developed into the three, and finally the four tined fork.
King Darius of Persia sent a huge fleet to conquer Athens, after the Greeks had been assisting a Persian province in Asia Minor in revolt against the Persians. The fleet was destroyed in 492 B.C. by a huge storm as it rounded the Athos Peninsula .
A second attack by Darius was defeated at Marathon by Athenian warriors.
Darius' son Xerxes decided to conquer Greece also, and in 480 B.C. began preparations. So that his fleet would not meet the same fate as Darius' first fleet, he ordered his army and those of his allies to build a canal across the one and a quarter mile wide Athos Peninsula. The work went on for three years, and when completed the canal was 100 feet wide at the surface, 45 feet deep and 50 feet wide at the bottom. This was wide enough for two warships to pass abreast. The Persian fleet passed through the canal, and then the canal was largely abandoned, and was silted in
over the years. Xerxes went from the canal to burn Athens, but his fleet was destroyed by the Athenian navy in the Battle of Salamis. Never maintained, the canal fell into disuse quickly. Its existence had been debated by historians, but recent studies have confirmed its location at the narrowest point on the peninsula. The canal can be seen as a line of green trees between the two red dots.
Spoked wheels have been around for millenia, and have reached a high degree of refinement in bicycle wheels. Bicycle wheels must operate for years with no maintanance, support hundreds of pounds of weight, and be as light as possible. There are a number of possible spoke configurations, but the one that is used on most bikes is the "triple cross" tangential pattern. If you look at bike wheels, the spokes are attached to the hub tangentially, and each spoke crosses another spoke three times, hence the "triple cross". This tangential spoke pattern was invented by renowned bike designer James Starley, and was patented in England in 1874.
When properly made, each spoke has a certain amount of tension on it when unweighted, pulling the hub towards the rim with a force of about 50 pounds per spoke. When the wheel is weighted, by weight pressing down on the axle, the hub tries to move toward the ground. When it is does this, the three spokes directly below the hub become unweighted, and the rim deflects a small amount, about .001 inches. That is about the thickness of a piece of paper. The tire around the rim deflects a good deal more than that. Although the three spokes under the hub are unstessed, the other remaining spokes pull equally on the hub, and prevent it from moving in relation to the rim. As the wheel is weighted and rolled, the rim is thus constantly flexing at the spot under the hub, and the spokes are constantly being unstressed and stressed as they come under the hub. Below is an exaggerated view of the wheel under weight.
These spokes appear to cross more than three other spokes because the spokes on both sides of the wheel are shown. Each spoke only touches and crosses three spokes on its side of the wheel. When a rider hits a hard object, such as railroad tracks or a curb, the spokes most likely to break are the spokes that are above the hub and closest to vertical, and they are most likely to break where the spoke head enters the rim hole. The hub basically shears them off the head of the spoke.
Did I say that the Colt Patterson was the first revolver? Well, it was the first Colt revolver, anyway. There had been earlier multishot pistols, called Pepperboxes, but they were built so that each bullet had its own barrel, so they weren't revolvers.
This is an example of a pepperbox. Multiple barrels made them fairly heavy. An improvement was a flintlock revolver, which had multiple firing chambers, but only one barrel. Elisha Collier made an effective flintlock revolver in 1818. Some sources say Colt saw the Collier revolver in London, and improved on it by inventing the percussion cap his Patterson revolver used. Actually, there were other guns before Colt's revolver that used percussion caps.
Other differences between the Colt Patterson and Colliers flintlock revolver include: with the Colt, pulling back the hammer rotated the cylinder and locked it in place, thus creating the "single action" revolver, a single action (pulling back the hammer) did two operations; the Colt trigger folds into the handle; the Colt has a built in loading ram, that can't be lost in the field. The biggest improvement was to get rid of the flint. Flints were notoriously unreliable, and had to be changed often. If you watch a reenactment of a Revolutionary battle, you will see a lot of soldiers stopping to replace their flints.
Buckminster Fuller was a bit of a utopian, and his inventions had a bit of utopian flavor to them. One of his ideas was for an underwater city, anchored to the sea floor. It would be built around a shaft in which was encased drilling equipment for offshore oil drilling. The shaft would extend to the surface, and contain elevators for access to the surface, and pipelines for transfer materials to and from ships at the underwater city's above surface dock. Part of the design was the arrangement of anchor cables, arranged tangentially, like the spokes of bicycle wheel.
The structure also had an underwater dock, where submarines could dock to refuel or take on oil, or disembark passengers.
Fuller also designed a floating city callted Triton that would be anchored anyplace, and would hold 100,000 people. It was never built, but the artificial island of Kansai near Osako, Japan, is derived from Fuller city plans.
The U.S. Government issued a Buckminster Fuller stamp on July 12 2004.
Everyone has known for a long time that a canal across the Isthmus of Corinth would greatly aid shipping. Periandros, ruler of Corinth, tried to build a canal across the isthmus by pick and shovel in about 600 BC, but the project was just too big for his resources. That is when he built the overland haul road described below. The second attempt was by the Macedonian King Demetrius Poliorkitis, in about 300 BC. The canal was contemplated by Julius Ceasar, and again attempted by the Roman Emporer Nero, in 67 AD, but was not finished when Nero was killed shortly after its start. The next attempt was in modern times, using the same techniques and steam equipment that had been developed for digging the Panama Canal. A crew of Greek and French workmen finally finished the canal in 1881, using the same route selected by Nero. Unfortunately, it was built too narrow for many large modern ships, but some 9000 smaller ships cross the Isthmus of Corinth through the canal each year. The canal also provides something that Nero never contemplated, an awesome bungee jumping venue!!