His name was George Eastman. He was the inventor of the first Kodak snapshot camera. You might recognize the name he gave to it: the Kodak camera. In addition to being one of the first brand names invented from nonsense syllables, it also sparked a photographic revolution that is still strong today.
He was able to simplify the photography process and create a product that everyone was able to use. He also pioneered a system in which employees of the company got dividends, essentially making them part-owners of the company. Sadly, when he was 77, he had spinal stenosis, which is a narrowing of the spinal canal. The pain for him was pretty big.
He decided to commit suicide by shooting himself in the heart. He left a short and simple note: "To my friends: My work is done. Why wait?"
Scientists are genetically modifying strawberries in order to allow them to resist freezing temperatures better. They're doing it by artificial transfer of genes from a species of fish called the Arctic Flounder Fish. The Arctic Flounder Fish produces an anti-freeze that allows it to protect himself in freezing waters.
They isolated the gene that produces this anti-freeze and introduced it to the strawberry. The result is a strawberry that looks blue and doesn't turn to mush or degrade after being placed in the freezer. While they're not in production, research is ongoing. Let us know in the comments, would you eat blue strawberries?
The small, but potent root popular with sushi, is helping researchers develop a new type of smoke alarm aimed at helping deaf people get out of danger more easily. Because the effects of wasabi are not oil-based, like those of peppers, they're not as long lasting. Japanese scientists have taken advantage of this and developed a type of smoke alarm that dispenses wasabi spray in the air when it detects dangerous smoke.
In a test of a prototype, a man woke up within 10 seconds of getting wasabi sprayed into his sleeping chamber. The scientists had to come up with what the ideal density of the smoke had to be, and for this they were rewarded with an Ig Nobel in Chemistry, a sort of Nobel prize for unusual research. (Source)
Director Robert Rodriguez financed his first movie through experimental clinical drug testing on his own!
El Mariachi is the movie that launched the career of director Robert Rodriguez. He's is most widely known today for films like Desperado, the Spy Kids series, and Sin City. While he's now a world-famous director, he started his first movie on a pretty modest $7000 budget.
The film was shot in Spanish and was intended to be released to the Mexican home video market. However, the production company liked it so much that they bought the rights and distributed it in America. The most interesting part of the production is that more than half of the production budget was raised by Rodriguez himself.
While he was living in Austin, Texas, he subjected himself to clinical drug trials, which gave him enough money to finish his film. The lack of money made Rodriguez come up with creative ways to get around his budget. For example, to simulate a machine gun, they filmed a fake machine gun shooting a blank once, then actors dropped shells in the ground so it would seem like it kept going. They later looped the sound in post-production.
Given that he went on to make so many other great movies, this has to be the be most successful self-induced clinical trial ever!
Around 1877, the first states in the US had passed laws restricting the sale of margarine. The reason for this was because there was a powerful butter lobby trying to get the federal government to restrict the sale of margarine in one way or another. It got so bad that eventually the federal government passed a tax of 2¢ per pound of margarine.
Most states passed laws requiring clear labeling of margarine. Most extreme, however, was the many states that required margarine manufacturers to use pink coloring in the manufacturing. The reason for this was to make the product look unpalatable. The Supreme Court had to come in and overturn these laws! In the meantime, however, 80% of people could not buy yellow margarine.
Manufacturers even started selling coloring capsules so people could recolor the margarine yellow at home. Did you know that there had been such a hard fought war between butter and margarine?