FORGOTTEN VISIONARIES

10 Unsung Scientists and Inventors Who Shaped History


Published on May 6, 2024


Credit: National Cancer Institute

History has a notoriously capricious memory. Casting a spotlight on a select few, it condemns others to oblivion, no matter how significant their contributions. However, it’s never too late to change this!

Let’s uncover some of the stories behind 10 forgotten figures of history that, in one way or another, helped shape our modern world.

1

Hedy Lamarr

Credit: Compare Fibre

As if a glamorous Hollywood career was not enough, Hedy Lamarr was also a brilliant inventor who - among other things - developed a groundbreaking frequency-hopping system during World War II to secure both communications and radio-guided torpedoes. And besides helping Allied forces gain a technological advantage during the war, her innovative ideas also laid the foundation for modern Bluetooth and Wi-Fi technologies.

2

Émile Gagnan

Credit: Adrien Delforge

Émile Gagnan was a French engineer who partnered with famous diver Jacques Cousteau to create the Aqua-Lung , the first self-contained underwater breathing apparatus (or SCUBA). The device, which utilized compressed air to allow divers to explore underwater for extended periods, not only completely revolutionized underwater exploration but its relative ease of use also led to a boom in recreational diving.

3

Mary Leakey

Credit: Johannes Plenio

Mary Leakey was a pioneering figure in the field of paleoanthropology who made significant contributions to our understanding of human evolution. Alongside her husband Louis Leakey, she unearthed numerous hominid fossils in East Africa, including the famous discovery of the "Nutcracker Man," a skull of Paranthropus boisei, an extinct species of hominid that lived around 2.5 million years ago. Mary's meticulous excavation techniques and a keen eye for detail led to many more groundbreaking discoveries, such as the Laetoli footprints, providing crucial insights into early human locomotion.

4

Alice Ball

Credit: Towfiqu barbhuiya

Alice Ball was a true pioneer in all regards. The first woman and first African American to graduate with a Master’s degree from the University of Hawaiʻi, she developed the first effective treatment for leprosy, known as the "Ball Method." Her technique allowed to make chaulmoogra oil - an antimicrobial extract obtained from the seeds of Hydnocarpus wightianus - water-soluble and thus injectable. She died before publishing her work, which was then stolen by fellow chemist Arthur L. Dean. However, thanks to the insistence of her colleagues, she eventually received the rightful recognition for her groundbreaking contributions.

5

Emilie du Châtelet

Credit: Bozhin Karaivanov

The outstanding work of the Marquise du Châtelet, also known as Emilie du Châtelet, significantly contributed to our understanding of energy conservation and the principles of calculus. Her 18th-century French translation of Isaac Newton's Principia Mathematica helped disseminate Newton’s work in Europe, and she introduced a series of contributions to Newtonian mechanics, including the postulate of an additional conservation law for total energy and a scientific definition for the concept of energy.

6

Al-Jazari

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Considered by some to be the true "father of robotics" and modern-day engineering, Al-Jazari was a 12th-century polymath who revolutionized mechanical engineering with his ingenious designs, including the first recorded programmable humanoid robot. Among his many designs for automata were a waitress that could serve various drinks, an automaton that helped with hand washing, and a musical robot band.

7

Edmond Becquerel

Credit: American Public Power Association

Edmond Becquerel's experiments in the 19th century paved the way for solar energy research. His discovery of the photovoltaic effect laid the groundwork for modern solar cell technology, and his research in the topics of optics and light also contributed to the development of photography. Curiously, he was the father of Nobel laureate Henri Becquerel, one of the discoverers of radioactivity.

8

Jethro Tull

Credit: Dan Meyers

Not to be confused with the rock band of the same name, Jethro Tull was an English agriculturalist born in the 17th century who revolutionized farming practices with his innovative inventions. His most famous creation, the seed drill, transformed agriculture by allowing seeds to be planted in neat rows at consistent depths, vastly improving crop yields and efficiency. Tull's dedication to scientific farming methods laid the groundwork for modern agricultural techniques.

9

Ada Lovelace

Credit: Florian Olivo

Often regarded as the world's first computer programmer, English mathematician Ada Lovelace made groundbreaking contributions to the early development of computing in the 19th century. Collaborating with Charles Babbage on his Analytical Engine, Lovelace is also notable for being the first to foresee potential in computing beyond mere calculation, as she reasoned that such an engine could easily work with entities other than just quantities, and could be applied to music, science, or have many other general uses.

10

Mary Anderson

Credit: Max Tokarev

Next time you are driving in the rain, think of Mary Anderson. An American inventor and entrepreneur, Anderson left an enduring legacy on the automotive industry with her groundbreaking invention - the windshield wiper. In 1902, while visiting New York City, Anderson observed streetcar drivers struggling to maintain visibility in inclement weather. Thinking on this problem, she envisioned a solution: a moving wiper blade that could be operated from the inside. Despite initial skepticism, Anderson's invention soon became standard equipment for automobiles, improving road safety everywhere in the world.


GRAB SOME POPCORN

Do You Remember The Catchy Taglines Of These 10 Unforgettable Movies?


Published on May 6, 2024


Credit: Myke Simon

Allow us to take you on a trip to the past , to a bygone era before the dawn of streaming services and on-demand content. Going to the movies wasn’t limited to just paying a ticket and watching a particular film: Back in the day, seeing the posters on the walls of the lobby and getting psyched about upcoming releases was also very much part of the experience of going to your local movie theater.

While today we might play that exciting movie trailer on an endless loop on YouTube, advertisement agencies always relied on drawing audiences through catchy and flashy campaigns. And an integral part of these strategies was sometimes what made a movie either a hit or a failure: an exciting tagline . We have gathered the phrases that helped transform the ten films in this list into the iconic pieces of pop culture we now hold sacred.

1

Alien

Credit: Mark Harkin

Ridley Scott’s 1979 film redefined the concept of space for audiences around the world. We stopped seeing the outer limits of our galaxy as "the Final Frontier" to be explored, and we now learned to fear that cold vacuum of endless silence.

Part of that dread definitively came from the movie’s legendary tagline. The poster showed a glowing alien egg over a pitch-black background, and unveiled a phrase that still makes us feel uneasy: "In space, no one can hear you scream."

2

Taxi Driver

Credit: Waldemar

Whenever someone mentions Martin Scorsese’s cult neo-noir, Robert DeNiro’s iconic "You talkin’ to me?" line usually comes to mind. And while this phrase is certainly legendary, Taxi Driver had a less-know tagline that also perfectly captures the essence of the film.

The 1976 original poster shows DeNiro’s character of Travis Bickle standing in the middle of a deserted New York City sidewalk, while the tagline reads**: "On every street in every city in this country, there’s a nobody who dreams of being a somebody."**

3

Ghostbusters

Credit: Erik Mclean

We can guarantee that this tagline has been ringing in your head ever since you read the name Ghostbusters on this list. You might even be humming this movie’s unforgettable theme track: After all, Ghostbuster’s iconic "Who ya gonna call?" tagline is on the centerstage of Ray Parker Jr.’s song.

What’s interesting is that, while this tagline closed the film’s trailer, it is curiously absent from the original 1984 poster , being instead replaced with a much more generic: "They are here to save the world." Nevertheless, "Who ya gonna call?" became an integral part of the Ghostbuster’s mythos, and is still constantly quoted almost 40 years after the film’s release.

4

The Naked Gun

Credit: Krists Luhaers

Leslie Nielsen’s 1988 "The Naked Gun" is not only remembered as a hilarious satire of police movies but also as a groundbreaking comedy film that paved the way for future parodies. The movie perfectly mixes slapstick gags with an amazing self-awareness of the ridiculousness the crime genre has to offer.

Appropriately, the movie’s tagline mocked the film industry's tired, old tropes and cliches: "If you only see one movie this year... you need to get out more often."

5

The Social Network

Credit: Alexander Shatov

The most recent movie on this list, David Fincher’s 2010 "The Social Network" delved deeply into the humble (and tumultuous) early years of Facebook. This biographical drama examines Mark Zuckerberg’s founding of the social media site from his Harvard dorm room and his legal battle with friend and co-founder Eduardo Saverin.

The movie’s tagline perfectly summarizes these internal struggles into a single line: "You don't get to 500 million friends without making a few enemies." Actor Jessee Eisenberg's iconic portrayal of Zuckerberg was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actor.

6

Close Encounters of the Third Kind

Credit: Bruce Warrington

Much like "Alien", the 1977 "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" portrayed UFO encounters in a new, more unnerving light. Steven Spielberg’s science-fiction drama chronicles the life of an Indiana electrician who sees his life change after an otherworldly encounter.

The film’s poster shows a dark, deserted highway lit by the blue light emanating from an undisclosed energy sphere half hidden behind the horizon. The movie’s tagline is located in the middle of the frame, a short but extremely effective reminder of the uneasiness this movie brings: "We are not alone."

7

The Fly

Credit: Jin Yeong Kim

David Cronenberg’s remake of the 1958 science fiction horror film "The Fly" was both an homage and a sharp turn from the original: Jeff Goldblum’s spine-chilling fly hybrid is still regarded as one of the most terrifying monsters in film history.

In that regard, the movie’s tagline highlights the primal fear that the monster produces in a simple but unnerving phrase: "Be afraid. Be very afraid." Right next to the tagline, The poster shows the now-iconic "telepod" lit by a blinding light, from which only a human hand and insect leg can be seen.

8

Apollo 13

Credit: Brian McGowan

This movie is the only one in this list that features a real-life quote as its tagline. "Houston, we have a problem" , the now-iconic distress call spoken by astronaut Jim Lovell (played by Tom Hanks) offered audiences a direct connection to the real Apollo 13 mission.

Ron Howard’s 1995 drama echoed through the American public and is now considered one of the best films of all time . In 2023, it was selected for preservation by the Library of Congress.

9

Jaws & Jaws 2

Credit: Kelsey K

We decided to include two amazing taglines in this entry because we couldn’t possibly decide between them . The first Jaws film had an unforgettable poster that showed Bruce the shark (yeah, his name is Bruce) looming underwater, complemented by the now-legendary tagline: "You’ll never go in the water again!"

By the time the second Jaws film was released, the first film had already cemented itself as a smashing hit. Logically, the executives behind the sequel decided to directly reference its predecessor: The movie’s tagline cleverly states: Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water...

10

Jurassic Park

Credit: Chan Chai Kee

We end this list with another classic Spielberg film. The first Jurassic Park film took audiences on a thrilling, unprecedented ride**, revered to this day as a timeless masterpiece.**

In 1993, the advertising campaign for the movie both made groundbreaking promises and played with people's expectations. The movie posters show the classic Jurassic Park logo over a black background, alongside the enigmatic tagline "An adventure 65 million years in the making."

Looking for an extra scoop of literary fun?

Learn more with our Word of the day

quibble

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