5 Famous People and the Inventions Everyone Forgets About

  • January 02, 2011
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  • Science
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Benjamin Franklin

The Legend:


Stone cold statesmanship.

Noted as one of the founding fathers and a turkey lover, Benny Franks was a polymath whose name can be spoken in the same breath as other greats like Leonardo da Vinci. He was so well loved, they put him on what is now the highest denomination of US currency, even though he was never a president.


Laughing at McKinley, Cleveland, Madison, Chase and Wilson from his grave.

Printer. Writer. Scientist. Diplomat. Ladies man. Even an inventor. In fact, he’s most often cited as “inventing electricity”, but he actually only produced a lightning rod to augment his studies on electricity.

The Invention:

Franklin actually invented dozens of things, from musical instruments to bifocals to a new type of stove. However the one that historians often gloss over, probably due to its function, was Franklin’s revolutionary new flexible catheter.


Now that’s the kind of thing you want to shove up your pe*?s.

Medicine wasn’t one of Ben’s biggest loves, but he took the time to figure out a way to make a horrific experience a little gentler. His brother John, who suffered from kidney stones, required the use of a catheter to remove urine. At the time, they were inflexible tubes that were a serious chore to use. Franklin was able to devise a way to make one that was flexible (in a time without plastics, mind you). Not exactly as romantic as flying a kite in a storm, but anyone who has required the use of one would probably argue: it was just as important an idea.


Robert Bunsen

The Legend:


Somehow he even made having a neckbeard cool.

Even though you’ve probably used the laboratory burner that was the man’s namesake, you probably don’t know much about the good Mr. Bunsen. In fact, he was a scientific rock star, except instead of sex, drugs and rock n’ roll, he never married, was an absolute gentleman and made serious contributions to human knowledge. Though he did lose sight in one eye from an explosion. Booyeah!


Look at him wail on that thing.

The Invention:

Rather than just figuring out safer ways for high school students to light farts, Bunsen frequently collaborated with other scientists to do great things. In fact, he discovered two elements (caesium and rubidium) working with Gustav Kirchhoff. But he also invented the Bunsen battery that was leaps and bounds cheaper than the best batteries at the time. He did it by using carbon, an element so abundant it is now threatening to destroy us, instead of platinum, an element that is extremely rare and more expensive than gold.


So really, the first guy to say the battery should cost less than the thing it powers.

Not only was it useful, it further enriched the scientific world as others used it to develop their discoveries. Henri Moissan used a stack of ninety of them to isolate fluorine for the first time, which won him the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1906. Meanwhile, Bunsen chose to never patent the inventions the world is still using 100 years after his death.

Written by Kevin Mack – Copyrighted © www.weirdworm.com Image Sources

Image sources:

  • - Isaac Newton: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/3/39/GodfreyKneller-IsaacNewton-1689.jpg http://www.miltonkeynesglassandglazing.co.uk/uploads/cat%20flap.jpg
  • - Alexander Graham Bell : http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/1/10/Alexander_Graham_Bell.jpg/250px-Alexander_Graham_Bell.jpg http://www.handicappedparkingforall.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/02/metal-detector.jpg
  • - BF Skinner : http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/3/3f/B.F._Skinner_at_Harvard_circa_1950.jpg http://jritchie.files.wordpress.com/2010/10/graduated-cyclinder1.jpg http://precisionteaching.pbworks.com/f/LindsleyAirCrib.JPG
  • - Benjamin Franklin : http://www.michaeldeas.com/Mike%20Deas%20Website/site_images/Ben_Franklin_510.jpg http://www.tumbleweedamerica.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/09/100-dollar-bill.jpg http://www.neonatology.org/classics/hess1922/figures/fig08-099.gif
  • - Robert Bunsen: http://www.jergym.hiedu.cz/~canovm/objevite/objev2/bun_soubory/bunsen10.jpg http://www.qmc.ufsc.br/qmcweb/images/bunsen.gif http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/c/c3/Bunsen_cell.jpg/200px-Bunsen_cell.jpg