Startup: Slick Inventions

This is thread seal tape – created as a replacement for pipe dope to help seal and lubricate threaded pipes in plumbing. Keeps ’em water tight, but still easy to open. How? Because it’s coated (like so many things) in Teflon. Polytetrafloroethylene (PTFE), like many great inventions, was accidentally created. In 1938 DuPont was […]


Startup: This Came From Candy

This is the world’s first microwave oven, the Radarange. It’s huge, so small wonder it didn’t catch on right away. The important thing is how it came to be.

A small engineering firm (so small you’ve probably never heard of them) called Raytheon (what do you mean defense contractor?) made radar systems to spot […]


Startup: The Color of Night


Ever wonder why so many street lights have that weird yellow-orange tinge to them? This is the signature of the Low Pressure Sodium lamp. The classic incandescent bulb runs electricity through a tungsten filament, causing it to glow, as Edison so famously demonstrated. Later it was discovered that using that same tungsten filament […]


Startup: So Terrible Its Awesome

In 1968, Dr. Spencer Silver was working at 3M developing new formulas for super-glue. In one experiment that massively failed, he managed to develop the exact opposite: the weakest adhesive since mother’s spit. He tried to get 3M interested in it, but with no apparent uses, they were ready to toss it out. Another […]