The periodic table of chemical elements is a graphic expression of the law discovered by D.I. Mendeleev in 1869, according to which the properties of a chemical component depend on its atomic mass, and with an increase in nuclear assembly, they change not monotonically but periodically.
According to legend, the thought of the system came to the scientist in a dream; however, Mendeleev’s statement is known: “I thought about it for maybe twenty years, but you think: I was sitting – and suddenly … it is ready.” Dmitry Mendeleev was the seventeenth (!) Child in the director’s family of the Tobolsk gymnasium graduated from the Physics and Mathematics of St. Petersburg University. In addition to the fundamental periodic law, he was the author of significant research in physics, metrology, aeronautics, economics, etc.
Real, contrary to popular belief, Mendeleev did not invent Russian vodka. He wrote his doctoral dissertation “Discourse on the combination of alcohol with water,” in which there is no word about vodka. By the way, the scientist considered the superior strength of the “national drink” not 40, but 38 degrees.
Smelting Iron. The Egyptians invented it around 3500 BC. They needed iron to create jewelry. And the source of the first iron was meteorites: information about the celestial origin of the metal has been preserved in many languages. Most likely, in those days, iron was more expensive than gold. Only later did the mining of iron ore and its mass processing begin.
Transistors. The transistor’s birthday – a device designed to amplify and control electric current – is considered December 23, 1947, when ass presented the invention at Bell Labs (in fact, the first such device was patented in Germany back in 1928). Later, three creators received the Nobel Prize for the “discovery of the transistor effect”. Transistors are used in analog and digital technology; without them, there would be no modern electrical appliances, computers, and communication systems. And not a single spacecraft would fly away.
Glass. The earliest known glass product is an Egyptian chain – the middle of the third millennium B.C. In India, Japan and China, glass items were found a little younger – 2000 B.C. And according to Pliny, the glass was accidentally discovered by Phoenician sailors even earlier, in the middle of the 4th millennium B.C., when they were shipwrecked and put pots with food on blocks of soda. The heat of the fire melted the soda, and the first glass was formed from its melt with sand. Today glass is the second non-metallic material (after clay) that is most often used on Earth—starting from flasks in a scientific laboratory and ending with beer bottles at glass container collection points.
Microscope. Anthony van Leeuwenhoek’s invention increased microbes 300 times. The scientist was born in 1632 in the family of a basket-maker by the name of Toniszon, and he invented a surname after the name of the gate next to his house. Levenguk graduated from high school, bought a shop, and was engaged in trade. Once, after reading a book by the naturalist Robert Hooke, the merchant became interested in studying nature using lenses, mastered the craft of a grinder, and built his microscope (which consisted of one more lens; only 150 years later it was possible to assemble a microscope from two lenses with good image quality). The objects of study Leeuwenhoek sketched, described, and sent in letters to the Royal Society of London address. He became the first person to see unicellular organisms “in the face”! At first, scientists did not believe in their existence, they had to convene a commission … Van Leeuwenhoek discovered erythrocytes, was the first to describe bacteria and ciliates, sketched lens fibers, skin cells, spermatozoa, the structure of insect eyes, etc. Since Herr Anthony examined the drop of water through his microscope, he only drank tea and wine.
Cement. This material – or rather, a group of materials with common physical properties – revolutionized construction. Like many other useful things, cement was invented in several countries at once. In Russia, this was done in 1822 by the builder Yegor Cheliev, who received a binding material from a lime and clay mixture. And in England, D. Aspind received a patent for the invention of cement in 1824. Its material was named Portland cement in honor of the city where a stone similar to cement in color and strength was mined. A couple of years ago, Germany was considering a patent application by architect Friedrich Lanz, who proposed mixing cement on dog feces. Lanz argued that it was a good thermal insulation material that cost nothing and also helped to clean the streets.
Steel Production. The first was the ancient Indians around 300 BC. Their steel was known as wutz. India traded extensively in steel bars that were the size of a hockey puck. From it in Persia, the famous blades were forged, which the Europeans later called Damascus – not by their place of origin, but by the area where they first saw them during the Crusades.
Extraction of copper from malachite and azurite – extraction metallurgy. The peoples who inhabited the territory of modern Turkey invented it. It is copper, which is 60% in malachite, which gives the mineral its emerald color.
X-ray diffraction by crystals. German physicist Max von Laue was 33 years old when he predicted this phenomenon, which was soon confirmed experimentally. The method made it possible to determine the structure of many crystals. Two years later, in 1914, Von Laue received the Nobel Prize for his discovery. The physicist lived a bright life. During the Nazi era, he defended Einstein, and after the war, he restored German science. Von Laue’s death was not entirely ordinary. At 81, a passionate motorist who never had an accident, on the way to the laboratory, he hit a motorcyclist who barely managed to get a driver’s license, flew off the highway with the car, and soon died from his injuries.
Bessemer’s process. The liquid cast iron is blown through with compressed air on a special converter, and cast steel is obtained. The design, patented by the English inventor Sir Henry Bessemer back in the 50s and 60s of the 19th century, still works almost unchanged. With the discovery of Bessemer, steel began to be produced in tons – machines flooded the planet. Bessemer also owns other inventions: a needle stamp for stamps, the machine for pressing sugar cane, a centrifugal pump – about a hundred useful devices in total.
And what shouldn’t have been invented at all? Experts answered the question, but by ordinary readers of the British popular science magazine BBC Focus.
1. The first place in the list of “the worst inventions of mankind” went to weapons – 35% of the vote.
2. The second place was unexpectedly taken by the essential thing – a cell phone (17%).
3. Nuclear energy – in ordinary people’s opinion, it was not worth waking this beast! – in third place with 9% of the votes.
4. On the fourth – a purely English misunderstanding, a three-wheeled electric car “Sinclair” (also 9%). It was invented by Sir Clive Sinclair in 1985, accelerated to 24 km per hour, and cost only about 400 pounds. But it had no roof, was too low, deprived continuously of a power source (it is known what “sunny” weather is all year round in Britain), and was extremely dangerous for driving on busy highways.
5. On the fifth place – the worldwide obsession, television (again 9%), clogging the brain and time.
6. Cars reached the sixth place (6%), enveloping the planet in exhaust gases.
7. Cigarettes, cigars, and tobacco are followed by 6%. Since Columbus brought the miraculous plant to Europe, lung cancer from smoking has mowed down a large proportion of humanity.
8. Fast food (3%) – food cooked in large quantities and reheated throughout the day. In 2012, this inexpensive, quick and unhealthy way to get full will celebrate its centenary. Today, in the U.S. alone, shoppers pay $110 billion a year for hamburgers and Kњ.
9. Speed cameras. Apparently, among the readers of “Focus”, there were many reckless drivers who more than once ran into fines. In Britain, yellow speed cameras are installed on many roads and are called “yellow predators.”
10. And in tenth place, according to 2% of respondents, is the religion that divided the world.
The BBC radio listeners also made the top ten inventions of humankind.
- Bicycle. Two wheels with pedals, gear, and steering wheel lead by a huge margin – the bicycle were named the most ingenious creation of human hands by 59% of listeners: simple, clean, universally worked. By the way, when exactly this masterpiece of inventive thought was invented, it is not known: the history of “scooters” before 1817 is replete with legends, and after that more than one craftsman inserted his spoke into the wheel. Today, over a billion bicycles are used on the roads and paths of the world.
- Transistor (8%);
- Electromagnetic induction (8%);
- Computer (6%);
- Discovery of the microbial nature of diseases (5%);
- Radio (5%);
- Internet (4%);
- Internal combustion engine (3%);
- Nuclear energy (1%);
- Communication satellites (1%).
Figure out for yourself what you’d like to invent next and what not!