Showing posts with label Leonardo da Vinci. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Leonardo da Vinci. Show all posts

May 8, 2015

Contact Lenses

Eyeglasses have been around since 13th century Italy, and the design has not changed much over the years, except for different types of frames, which change with fashion.

During 1887, a German named Adolf Fick decided to do away with frames altogether and simply stick the lens directly on his eye.

The first contact lenses were 21mm (0.8 inches) wide and made from blown glass, with a sugar solution between the lens and the eye to cut down on friction. They were bulky and uncomfortable, but blown glass contacts lasted for 50 years until they were replaced with plastic ones in 1936.

Even though Fick was the first person to make a practical contact lens, he was not the first to try. Leonardo da Vinci is said to have invented a type of contact lens in 1508 made out of a bowl of water. Rene Descartes supposedly built a water-filled tube that was designed to go into the eye, but the idea never took off because it stuck out so far a person could not blink.

May 22, 2013

Morton Salt Facts

Difficult to imagine a barbecue without some salt for the ribs, burgers, and fries. Also difficult to think of Morton's Salt without thinking of the umbrella girl (when it rains it pours).

During the 1880s, Joy Morton invested in a Chicago-based salt company. Salt was big business in those days, largely fueled by the demand of the explorers and pioneers who were settling the American West. Salt is a critical component of any diet and throughout history has been critical to various types of food preservation.

Salt is hygroscopic, which causes it to absorb water from the air around it. When water is absorbed, the salt tends to clump. Morton's solved this problem in 1911 by adding an anti-caking agent, magnesium carbonate, to its product. It also put the salt in a cylindrical package to aid in keeping water out.

Morton hired an advertising agency to put together a marketing campaign to promote the anti-caking properties of his salt. The ad team came up with a long list of marketing plans. Morton’s son chose the umbrella-wielding girl, accidentally pouring salt in the rain. The illustration epitomized wholesomeness, innocence and the value of Morton salt to pour easily, even if you are standing in the rain.

The additional ingredients did help, but salt still tended to clump and people put a few grains of rice in salt shakers to absorb moisture. Salt producers often add trace amounts of iodine to salt to prevent iodine deficiency, or folic acid to reduce anemia, both of which are a serious problem around the world. Today there are more than a half dozen common additives to reduce clumping, reduce health defects, and add flavors. About 17% of all salt production is used for food. The bulk of the rest is used in manufacturing, dyeing, and in soaps and detergents.

Judas Iscariot is depicted knocking over a jar of salt in Leonardo da Vinci’s famous painting The Last Supper. Spilled salt was considered a bad omen and still is for some people.

Feb 5, 2011

Happy Birthday Robots

The word is 90 years old. In 1921, a play about robots premiered at the National Theater in Prague, then capital of Czechoslovakia. The word stems from the Czech word robota meaning forced labor, drudgery, and servitude. The robots in Capek’s play were molded out of a chemical batter, and they looked exactly like humans.

Even before the word was invented, Leonardo da Vinci's 1495 sketch of a mechanical knight, which could sit up and move its arms and legs, is considered to be the first plan for a humanoid robot.

Robots do many things these days, such as clean floors, build and paint cars, harvest crops, play chess, act as prosthetics, and perform operations.

Isaac Asimov developed what have become the three universal rules for robots.

# A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
# A robot must obey orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
# A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.
Danger, danger Will Robinson, this is beginning to ramble.