What superglue has in common with the invention of aerosol cans and chewing gum

This week I learned about some cool inventions as per my experiment.

Did you know… that Aerosol cans were first invented for carbonated drinks. They were a niche product, serving a small market, BUT, when the U.S. government funded research into a portable way for service men to spray malaria-carrying bugs during World War II, Lyle Goodhue and William Sullivan developed a smaller version of an aerosol can pressurized by a liquefied gas (a fluorocarbon).

Aerosol Can Invention

Then in 1943, when Robert Abplanalp invented lightweight aluminum, aerosol cans started to become useful for everything.

Aerosol cans have something in common then with superglue, which was invented 20 years before it ever became famous.

Lesson 1: Popular inventions have needs


Thomas Adams is another inventor who listened to someone else’s advice (Edward Goodrich Acheson who invented Carborundum was another), and invented something surprising.

Apparently, it was General Antonio de Santa Anna, in exile from Mexico, who suggested that the unsuccessful but inventive photographer experiment with chicle from Mexico. Santa Anna felt that chicle could be used to make a synthetic rubber tire.

Chicle Gum Invention Mexico

Adams attempted to make toys, masks, rain boots, and bicycle tires, but every experiment failed. One day in 1869, he popped a piece of surplus stock into his mouth and liked the taste. Chewing away, he had the idea to add flavoring to the chicle. Voila, he invented chewing gum.

Assorted Chicle Gum Invention Mexico

So chewing gum also has something in common with superglue – no, not the consistency, but the fact that it was invented by accident.

Lesson 2: Inventions first happen by accident

More inventions next week! Subscribe to my blog here


How to become a better inventor – experiment

I’m conducting an experiment to see if I can become a better inventor. I don’t quite know how to measure success yet, and even if I did, I don’t know if I will be able to do this for long enough to measure it… but I’m willing to try.

It’s based on this video of Ray Bradbury I found on Brain Pickings 5 months ago. Although it’s about writing, I was inspired because he struck down the notion that writing is hard… or even work –

Anything you love, you do it. It’s got to be with a great sense of fun. Writing is not a serious business. It’s a joy and a celebration. You should be having fun with it. Ignore the authors who say “Oh, my God, what word? Oh, Jesus Christ…”, you know. Now, to hell with that. It’s not work. If it’s work, stop and do something else.”

How to become a better writer/ inventor

I fell in love with the idea that you could enjoy every day, while making a living from it –

I’ve never worked a day in my life. I’ve never worked a day in my life. The joy of writing has propelled me from day to day and year to year. I want you to envy me, my joy. Get out of here tonight and say: “Am I being joyful?””

In the talk, he gives some exercises to do if you want to become a better writer, but I want to become a better inventor, so I’ve adapted his suggestions slightly –

His advice – Read one essay, one poem and one short story every night.

My adaption: Read about one famous invention, about one famous inventor, and research about an object in your surroundings every night. 

His advice – Write one short story per week… so you can find your voice

Every week you’ll be happy – you’ll have done something… in a novel you don’t feel good – don’t know where you’re going… takes so long…

My adaption – Invent a solution to a problem per week… so you can see what types of problems you like to solve

His advice: Have FUN – if it’s not fun, then stop writing…!

My adaption: Have FUN – if it’s not fun, then stop inventing…!

So my experiment has begun to see if I can become a better inventor. Perhaps after the period of 6 months, I will have one semi-decent idea to run with. At the very least I will be exercising my invention muscles. 

You can’t write for other people. You can’t write for the left or the right, this religion or that religion, or this belief or that belief. You have to write the way you see things.”

Likewise, I think you have to invent things that address the problems that you see in the world, in your life, in your day. You can’t just invent for other people. So let’s see if it works.

Surprise yourself… you don’t know what you’re going to do next!

You can see my invention attempts to make me feel safer as a female solo traveler in week 1 here.

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