In the 1890s Rudolf Diesel created an engine that could run more efficiently than other engines of the period. The ubiquitous diesel engine was soon a common sight in military and industrial use. While sailing to Germany in 1913 Diesel either jumped or was thrown overboard and his body was not recovered for 10 days. Theories abound that he was prevented him from giving the Germans an advantage by signing a contract with to manufacture diesel engines. Whether it was murder or suicide is still debated to this day.
8) Mason Jars
Patented in 1858 by John Landis Mason, the jars we all know and love revolutionized the way we eat food. Whether you drink tea from them or use them exclusively for preserving your summer harvest, our lives wouldn’t be the same without the Mason jar.
In 1812 a satirical cartoon in the Boston Gazette outlined the shape of a dragon in the form of map. This awkward re-sectioning that created unusual shapes appropriated voters in certain districts for political gains. The moniker was derived from the combination of the words gerry (Elbridge Gerry was governor of Massachusetts at the time) and salamander from the shape of the newly-defined district map.
Adolphe Sax was an unlucky guy. He reportedly swallowed a needle, fell down a flight of stairs, and fell into an oven as a child. Sax also patented the saxophone in 1840 but found little success with the instrument. It wasn’t until a century later that the sax caught on with jazz musicians- of all the luck!
The New World plant that was gaining popularity around the globe was named for Jean Nicot de Villemain, a French diplomat who learned of tobacco on a trip to Portugal. He brought back snuff, leaves and seed to the royal court of France in the 1560s and became immortalized in the naming of the plant after it was an overwhelming success. Only in subsequent centuries did nicotine come to mean a chemical inside the tobacco plant.
Named after women’s rights campaigner Amelia Bloomer, the loose-fitting pants or undergarments (depending on who you ask) were not invented by her. But, her movement embodied what was seen as the downfall and masculinization of women and so the name was a highly charged statement that represented resistance to such a trend. Meanwhile, fashionable ladies of the 1850s were wearing bloomers under their giant hoop skirts to avoid flashing too much skin when the hoops were inevitably tipped up.
13) Ferris Wheel
Debuting at the 1893 Columbia Exposition as the American answer to the Eiffel Tower, the ferris wheel wowed crowds. Creator George Washington Gale Ferris, Jr. wanted a spectacle and he certainly devised one that we are still enojying to this day.
It’s always interesting to know where names and sayings come from and these inventions (and discoveries) are no exception. And who could have known that these names would become part of our everyday language?