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Inventions Trivia

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Mechanical clocks were invented in the late Middle Ages. The length of an hour had varied prior to that, depending on the time of year.

The first stereoscope was created by Sir Charles Wheatstone in 1833. It featured carefully drawn dual sketches to create a three dimensional image. After photography was invented, stereoscopes became more common place.

Miami Beach pharmacist Benjamin Green invented the first suntan cream by cooking cocoa butter in a granite coffee pot on his wife's stove, and then testing the batch on his own head. His invention was introduced as Coppertone Suntan Cream in 1944.

The first stethoscope, invented in 1816, was made from a roll of paper.

More than 100,000 family dogs are killed each year in car accidents. As a result, a manufacturer in the eastern United States has developed a car restraint designed specifically for dogs riding in the car.

While Eleanor Abbott of San Diego, California was recuperating from polio in the 1940s, she occupied herself with devising games and activities for youngsters who had polio. One of her inventions was called "Candy Land." Her young friends liked the game so much, she submitted it to Milton Bradley Company where it was immediately accepted. Since then, Candy Land has been recognized internationally as a "child's first game."

The first subway was built in London (1860-63) by the cut-and-cover method. Other notable subways: Paris (the Metro 1898) and New York (1900).

More than 5,000 years ago, the Chinese discovered how to make silk from silkworm cocoons. For about 3,000 years, the Chinese kept this discovery a secret. Because poor people could not afford real silk, they tried to make other cloth look silky. Women would beat on cotton with sticks to soften the fibers. Then they rubbed it against a big stone to make it shiny. The shiny cotton was called "chintz." Because chintz was a cheaper copy of silk, calling something "chintzy" means it is cheap and not of good quality.

While fighting with the French underground during World War II, Jacques Yves Cousteau invented the aqualung, the self-contained device that supplies air pressure for underwater divers.

The first train was designed by Richard Trecithick and took its first run in England on February 21, 1804. It moved at a speed of 8 kilometers, or 5 miles per hour.

More than half a billion yo-yos have been sold in the United States since Donald F. Duncan introduced the toy in 1930.

While living in Memphis, Tennessee in 1866-67, Thomas Edison developed a device to electrocute cockroaches.

The first U.S. patent for an animal was issued to geneticists at Harvard University in 1988. The animal called an "oncomouse" is a genetically engineered mouse that is highly susceptible to breast cancer.

Most grandfather clocks with metal pendulums lose time in warm weather. This phenomenon occurs because most solids expand when heated. In the case of the clock, the higher temperature makes the metal pendulum longer, and thus slower.

While the bladders of animals had been used as balloons for centuries, the first rubber balloons were made in 1824. Professor Michael Faraday used them in his experiments with hydrogen at London's Royal Institution.

The first VCR, or video cassette recorder, was made in 1956 and was the size of a piano.

Most Panama hats are manufactured in Ecuador.

The first vending machines in the United States dispensed chewing gum, and were installed in New York City train platforms in 1888.

Most tin is used to make containers for food and pastes. Over 100 billion such containers are manufactured each year.

The first VHS videotape was launched in 1975, by Japan.

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