Monday, March 28, 2011

Rant #471: An Invention That Sticks To You Like Glue

At Ranting and Raving, I like to celebrate people who had one major accomplishment that we take for granted, but that accomplishment may have changed our world.

Case in point is the story of Harry Wesley Coover Jr., the inventor of Super Glue, who died over the weekend at age 94.

This is a product we have probably all used when we need to put together things like broken handles, but without Cover, well, we would probably have to go to the tape--or the trash bin, where our beloved item would have probably ended up if not for Super Glue.

Cyanoacrylate, the chemical name for the glue, was first discovered in 1942, and like with many inventions, it was founded by accident.

In a search for materials to make clear plastic gun sights for World War II sharpshooters, Coover, a chemist, put together this compound, which didn't offer much sight but stuck to everything.

In 1951, Coover recognized the potential for the product as a glue, and seven years later, in 1958, it was first sold.

Coover just didn't sell the product, he promoted it too.

Among other stunts, he was on the old "I've Got a Secret" quiz show, where he hung himself up in the air on bars that were stuck with the Super Glue to metal supports.

A single drop of the glue was able to do it, and the stunt was often imitated, especially by Krazy Glue, a similar product, in TV ads, with a construction worker stuck to a girder by his hat and a single drop of the glue.

Coover's invention will live on well past its creator's life, but his legacy is that he created something that helped make life a little more easy for us all.

And that's a good thing.

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