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Charles Goodyear

In the early years of the Industrial Revolution, natural rubber seemed like a wonder substance. In its original form, it was a thick sap that was drained from trees in tropics like Brazil. Coagulated with acid, it became malleable enough to shape and form.

A lot of experiments at that time were geared toward making rubber stable enough that it would be reliable in industrial settings. No matter what scientists tried, though, summertime heat destroyed the rubber, turning it into a mass of sticky, smelly gum.

By the mid 1830s, it seemed as though the rubber industry was going under. Miraculously the industry was saved by inventor Charles Goodyear – a man with no knowledge of chemistry who worked stubbornly and tenaciously to develop vulcanized rubber.

It was not until 1841, after much hardship and time spent in jail for debt, that Goodyear found a solution. He found that by uniformly heating sulfur- and lead-fortified rubber at a relatively low temperature, he could render the substance melt-proof and reliable. He patented his process in June 1844, licensed it to manufacturers, and showcased it at exhibitions. Vulcanized rubber could be used to manufacture shoes, waterproof clothing, life jackets, balls, hats, umbrellas, rafts... and one day, it would be an important component in tires, roofs, floors, transmission belts, assembly lines, shock absorbers, seals and gaskets.

Years after his death, when the age of automobiles dawned, two brothers from Ohio decided to name their company after the man who made their product possible – hence Goodyear tires were born.


Inside joke

The optimist sees the glass half full. The pessimist sees the glass half empty. The scientist sees the glass completely full, half with liquid and half with air.


Unit 5

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