April 16, 2024

Great Inventions!

by Joseph G. Evrard
Staff Kentuckian

Any discussion of great inventions will probably include things like the automobile, the airplane, the transistor and the bikini. All of these inventions were possible because of the work of previous inventors. Without the invention of rubber, it would have been impossible to make tires, so in order to invent the automobile, somebody had to first invent rubber.

In like manner, the invention of the transistor depended on the earlier invention of the silicon chip upon which the transistor is manufactured. Similarly, the success of the bikini depended upon silicon (in the form of silicone implants) for its success. The invention of the airplane is a bit different in that it was dependent upon a much more basic achievement. It would have been impossible to invent the airplane without the invention of air. That’s right, I said air.

Now, some of you out there aren’t going to believe this, but I swear it’s true. There was a time when air didn’t exist. It had to be invented. The lack of air was responsible for all kinds of inconveniences and just plain awkward moments, too. Imagine a father and son spending the afternoon building a kite. They carefully cut out the paper according to the pattern, painstakingly glued up the frame and fashioned a proper tail. After painting the kite bright and festive colors, they stood back to admire their work. That’s when the boy turned and said, “Well, Pop, it really is a neat looking kite. What do we do with it?” The father thought for a moment then realized he had absolutely no idea what the kite was for.

After an embarrassingly long pause he turned to his son and blurted out, “Gee, son, I really don’t know!”

History is unclear as to exactly where or when air was finally invented. It’s likely that many people were working on it at the same time. One thing’s for sure though. The saying, “Necessity is the mother of invention,” was never more true than when it came to air. People all over the world clamored for it. When the first few primitive puffs of the stuff were announced the world went wild.

The first air was so rare that wars were fought over it. Politicians built entire campaigns on promises of free air for everybody. Mobs prowled the streets of major cities stealing air from those unfortunate enough to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. On street corners everywhere haggard men in ragged dirty clothes held crudely lettered signs that said. “Will work for air.”

Early entrepreneurs seized upon the boom and quickly threw together hastily constructed air factories to meet the new tidal wave of demand. These early barons of industry became fabulously wealthy establishing some of the great family fortunes of the world, while in their hot, dirty unsafe air mills, laborers worked as much as 15 hours a day for a few meager coins that they immediately spent at the company store. Child labor was exploited to meet the demand. Fathers worked double shifts to put a few meager scraps of bread on the table for their hungry families. In the palatial mansions of the rich, the fashion of the day was the “air party” at which the cream of society would stroll around and breathe extravagantly, while the common man had to make do with the meager supply of air available to the masses.

But as we all know, injustice in America is never condoned for long. The masses rose up and demanded their fair share of air. Marches in the streets, political rallies, speeches, town meetings, public interest forums, opinion polls, focus groups, radio talk shows, Oprah and internet bloggers all joined forces to right the wrongs of the past and ensure an adequate and inexpensive supply of air for all.

We all owe these pioneers a debt of gratitude. Because of them we can inflate our tires, fly a kite with our kids and even fly across the ocean. Which brings to mind another invention of major importance – water. That’s right, water. Without water there would be no lakes or oceans. Without lakes and oceans, there would be no beaches.

And without beaches there would be no bikinis! And without bikinis there would be no reason for men to invent things.

See ya around,


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