Wonder Wednesday – Who Invented The Bar Code?

Since last Treasure Tuesday (the 7th) I talked about the age of a Coke bottle being 1980’s or later because the bar code wasn’t popular until the 1980’s. So I thought, what a fun topic for Wonder Wednesday! 😁

Norman Joseph Woodland and Bernard Silver patented the bar code in 1952. The thin and thick bars were based on Morse Code’s dits and dahs. Oh, and it was in the shape of a bullseye. o_O

Photo by Stephen Niemeier from Pexels

But it wasn’t until 1974 that the first bar code was scanned. By 1984, 33% of grocery stores were using bar codes.

Part of the reason it wasn’t used immediately was because they needed a strong light to read the code. The original prototype was as big as a desk and it had a 500-watt incandescent bulb – but even that wasn’t always accurate. The invention was judged to be 20 years ahead of its time.

In July of 1960, the laser (Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation) was invented. They said it was brighter than the center of the sun. While newspapers reported it as someone inventing the death ray, inventors saw it as an answer to the light problem. Theodore Maiman, the inventor of the laser, wrote that he didn’t expect the laser to be used for a checkout scanner when he created it.

Image Credit: Unsplash

Kroger was the first to use the bullseye bar code. The inventors thought the bullseye was the best design because it could be read accurately from any angle, but printing it was the problem. Any imperfection in the printing resulted in bad scans.

Different companies started making different versions of readable codes, causing a bit of chaos. And some manufacturers didn’t want to make their products look ugly with codes. 😆

There was a competition held for the best design for the bar code. According to an article by the Smithsonian:

Laurer was handed the specifications for a bar code that had been determined by the Symbol Selection Committee: it had to be small and neat, maximum 1.5 square inches; to save money it had to be printable with existing technology used for standard labels; it had been calculated that only ten digits were needed; the bar code had to be readable from any direction and at speed; there must be fewer than one in 20,000 undetected errors.

…that’s quite the specifications. o_O

Seven companies made a bid to the Ad Hoc Committee of the Universal Product Identification Code. The person who met those standards in his invention was George Laurer (from IBM).

The small town of Troy’s Marsh Supermarket in the small town of Troy in Miami County, Ohio was the first place the Universal Product Code was used. The one we know today. The first item scanned? A ten pack of Wrigley’s gum.

And that concludes this week of Wonder Wednesday! 😊


Wonder Wednesday: The Origin Of Christmas Elves

Merry Christmas! 😀 I know it’s not Wednesday yet, but I wanted to post this on Christmas, so here it is a day early. 🙂

Image Credit: Pixabay

I had this post in mind for a while, and I couldn’t decide which part of Christmas I wanted to focus on. Last year, I researched holly, mistletoe, wreaths, trees, and yuletide. (I intended to research one, but it turned out they were all related, so I just did one monster post with the info I found.) This year I wanted something different… I had it narrowed down to Santa and the elves but I couldn’t decide which I wanted to do. However, T. R. Noble covered Santa Claus in this post (click to read!) and made my decision for me. (Great job, T. R., I enjoyed that post so much!) So I’m going to focus on elves. 🙂

Forget the little creatures with pointy hats for a moment. The elves of folklore were not like that. They were beautiful and even seductive.

Image Credit – Wikipedia Commons

The picture reminds me more of the Greek nymphs (oreads and dryads specifically) rather than elves… I’ll stop here with that line of thought, I don’t want to digress too much.

Image Credit: Pixabay

They were magical beings credited with helping people or harming them. The good ones were called elves. The bad ones were called gnomes. (Finding this out makes me want to research why it’s common to put gnomes in the yard and such… 🤨) When looking at the research, it seems like they should be associated with Halloween and trick or treat instead of Christmas… 🤪 Anyway. Digressing again.

The small, imp-like beings were made popular by Shakespeare in A Midsummer Nights Dream. The taller ones were made popular by J. R. R. Tolkien in Lord of the Rings.

Image Credit: Pixabay

It seems that the reason elves became associated with Christmas is the same reason for Saint Nicholas becoming Santa Claus – the poem, A Visit from St. Nicholas. One line reads, “He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf…”

I can’t imagine Santa as an elf. But if he was considered an elf at the time of the poem, then his helpers were simply the same as he was I guess. Until someone took Santa and made him more grandfatherly and… human.

The reason that elves now work at the North pole might be because of an old story about elves helping a shoemaker. The Elves and the Shoemaker, a story from Grimm’s Fairytales, also talks about leaving a gift for the elves for their help, sort of how milk and cookies are customarily left out for Santa.

Image Credit: Pixabay

One thing during my research that I found disturbing is that some early accounts of the word were used as a replacement for demon… here, it talked about in 900 when elf was used as a replacement for Satan. Looks like some theorize that good elves were actually angels and bad elves were actually demons. 😲

Didn’t expect to find that in my research. Seems like I almost always find out something surprising in my research lately.

Before I sign off, I want to give a shoutout to  Diana at La Petit Muse: Was Jesus Born On The 25th? and T. R. Noble: Holiday Traditions… An idol? who also wrote about Christmas traditions and such. 🙂

Hope you all had a Merry Christmas! ❤

Wonder Wednesdays: How Does A Fire Extinguisher Work?

Image Credit: Pixabay

Some fire extinguishers work with spraying water under pressure, but I noticed that some seem to spray out some sort of powder. (And if you’ve seen videos of exploding coffee creamer, then you’ll understand my confusion. 🤣) Turns out, many powder substances when blown into the air becomes flammable, such as sawdust, flour, non-dairy coffee creamer, pollen, powdered milk, cocoa, grain, starch, sugar, and even some metals. The worst dust explosion happened in 1942 in China. The coal-dust explosion killed 1,549 people – 34% of the workers in the mine.

Image Credit: Wikipedia

Found this poster from World War I in Wikipedia’s creative commons. It was put out after six dust explosions. 😬

Image Credit: Wikipedia

A dust explosion happens when something ignites a dispersed flammable substance (fuel) in a confined area.

I do realize that not all powders are combustible, but it made me wonder what is inside a fire extinguisher and why the aerated powder doesn’t combust.

Image Credit: Wikipedia

Fires can happen when heat, oxygen, and fuel combine. You get fire as a chain reaction. A fire extinguisher is designed to remove at least one of these three things, which makes the chain reaction stop.

There are three types of fire extinguishers: water-based (removes heat from the fire), dry chemical (usually filled with foam or a mix of monoammonium phosphate and ammonium sulfate powder with a nitrogen propellant – this works by removing oxygen from the fire), and carbon dioxide (a mix of liquid and gaseous carbon dioxide removes oxygen and heat).

It looks like different extinguishers are used for different fires. For example, you don’t want to use a water-based one for an electrical fire because you may get electrocuted, and you don’t want to use the dry chemical extinguisher on a chlorine or oxidizer fire because that could cause it to explode.

So in short… under the right circumstances, a dry chemical extinguisher COULD explode. 😱

Image Credit: Pixabay

Go figure.

Wonder Wednesdays: Who invented the battery?

Image Credit: Unsplash

Answer: Two Italian Scientists, Alessandro Volta (<– yes, this is the guy that volts are named after) and Luigi Galvani, had an argument about why a frog’s leg contracted. (I bet you didn’t expect the answer to this to begin like this… trust me, I didn’t either… 😆) Luigi apparently did a lot of experiments with frog legs. Disgusting. Anyway, moving along…

He discovered that a frog’s leg would contract when forming a circuit with two different metals. Luigi proclaimed that it was “animal electricity” phenomenon that caused this, but Alessandro argued with him and proved that it happened because of the metals and the electrolyte between them – the frog leg.

Man, all I wanted to know was how the battery was invented, I didn’t want to read about dead frogs. I really like frogs…

Okay, after looking at beautiful, living frogs that I have met over the years (and a few toads because why not, they also make my heart happy), I feel better and will continue. 😆

FINALLY abandoning the dead frog parts, Alessandro Volta stacked disks of copper and zinc together, with these stacks separated by salty-water-soaked cloths. He called this the voltaic pile. And by doing so, he invented the battery. This happened in 1800. 😁

…before I finish with my “Who invented the first battery” answer, I had to find out how stacking copper and zinc with brine-soaked fabric would create any form of battery because to me, that sounds just like what says. Metal, salt, and a wet salty towel. How could you power anything with that?

Image Credit: Shutterstock

Looks like it has to do with a chemical reaction between the brine and the metals. Interesting how this made a steady current. Anyway, back on topic…

This answer only applies to electric batteries. There are other mentions of batteries as far back as Benjamin Franklin when he was experimenting with electricity by linking capacitors.

However, 1700’s is nothing… the oldest battery was actually found in Baghdad. They were created somewhere between 200 BC and 225 AD. It consisted of an asphalt stopper, copper cylinder surrounding an iron bar, in an electrolyte solution, all inside a clay pot. o_O (I didn’t find any free images for this, so if you want to see it, click here for one of my sources for this article that has photos.)

And like most people, I wondered what these people needed a battery for – surely they didn’t have anything to power back then. Some use the argument that the Chinese invented gunpowder thousands of years before they used it for combustion, therefore, these “batteries” may not have been used to power anything. There are many theories out there. One likely theory is that they used these batteries for electroplating and gilding. Another is that these things were hidden inside the idols of the day to cause a shock to someone who touched them to give them validity to their “power.”

Whatever the reason for these “batteries,” they seem to be the first batteries known. 😄

Wonder Wednesdays – Who assigned verses and chapters to the Bible and why aren’t the books in chronological order?

Did Paul even know when writing letters to the churches that his letters would become a part of Scripture? I can’t answer that, but I doubt that he wrote the letters with chapters and numbers assigned! And that got me thinking – how did that happen? It’s a useful tool for reference, but on the flip side, this can make it easier to pick out a verse and take it out of context.

But anyway…

Answer: As I suspected, the Bible was not originally broken into chapters and verses. The chapter divisions similar to we know them was done by an Archbishop of Canterbury, Stephen Langton, around 1227 A.D. The first Bible to use these was the Wycliffe Bible in 1382. And after that one, nearly all the Bibles included the chapters.

The Hebrew Old Testament was separated into verses by Nathan, a Jewish Rabbi, in A.D. 1448. The first to separate the New Testament into standard numbered verses, in 1555 was Robert Estienne (also known as Stephanus). Since the Geneva Bible, the verses assigned by Stephanus have been in all Bibles.

This led me to ask other questions, such as why the Bible’s books are in the order they are instead of chronologically. The Old Testament books are ordered by type. First is historical accounts (Genesis – Esther), then poetry (Job – Song of Solomon), and lastly, prophecy (Isaiah – Malachi). The New Testament is the same. Historical (Matthew – Acts), Letters (Romans – Jude), and prophecy (Revelation). But within these types, the books are chronological.

With that being said, chronological Bibles do exist. (Click the link if you want to see a sampling.) It attempts to put everything in order, meaning that some books, such as the prophets, might end up in the middle of other books such as Kings and Chronicles. It also makes an effort to put the Gospel events in order. I’d actually love to see what that looks like. 🙂

(All photos are mine. 😉 )

Wonder Wednesdays – Who invented taxicabs?

Who invented the taxi?

Image Credit: Pixabay

Answer: The taximeter was invented by three German inventors:  Wilhelm Friedrich Nedler, Ferdinand Dencker, and Friedrich Wilhelm Gustav Bruhn. I didn’t realize that taxi was short for a larger word, so then I also because curious about why it was called a taxi cab…

So it looks like the English borrowed the French word “taxi” which came from “taximeter-cabriolet.” When the taximeter-cabriolet reached England, it was shortened to “cab” because “cabriolet” was quite a mouthful.

Taxi, from the word “taxe,” is “a charge”; so, a taximeter “measures the charge”. (Which makes sense because that’s what it does. XD)

Cabriolet is pure French for a “two-wheeled carriage”. “Cab” is the first syllable of “cabriolet.”

The first cabriolet (or sometimes called cabriole), was built in France in the latter part of the eighteenth century. It was a light two-wheeled carriage pulled by a single horse, and it had a large leather hood and a leather apron to protect the legs of the passengers from the water, mud, and dirt that was kicked up by the horse. It looked something like this:

Image Credit: Wikipedia Commons

“Cabriolet” is from the French “cabri” meaning “kid” or “young goat” because the original non-car taxi had a spring system that caused it to bounce around in a way the resembled a young goat.

And now, for the question that I actually set out to find the answer to, and ended up finding out all that above: Why are taxi cabs yellow? Well…

This happened in the year 1907. A man named John Hertz had a plethora of cars that had been traded in and decided to start a taxi business. Because apparently when you have an oversupply of cars, that’s what you do with them. (Seriously, it’s cool that’s what he decided to do with them.) Because taxis need to be seen among the many cars on the road (I didn’t realize many cars were on the road in 1907…) he had to be choosy in which color to paint his new taxicabs. A survey was taken by the University of Chicago which stated that yellow was the easiest color to pick out, so that is what he went with.

Image Credit: Pixabay

So taxis are yellow because of a survey. Just think, if the survey has said purple, we might have a bunch of purple taxis out there. 🙂

Wonder Wednesdays: What attracts cats to catnip?

Answer: The catnip plant has oil by the name of”nepetalactone” in it.  When nepetalactone hit the olfactory receptors – er – the scent hits their noses, the oil stimulates receptors that sense chemicals called “pheromones.”

This causes a chemical reaction which gives a feline a feeling of euphoria or overwhelming glee.

In other words…

They get a safe high.

It looks like the effect that catnip has on cats is compared to a hallucinogen on humans. 😲 Thankfully, the effects don’t last too long.

Some cats have reactions such as growling, drooling, purring, or rolling around on the floor with the catnip like they lost all their senses. Others seem to pay no attention to it at all.

Research shows that only 50% to 75% of cats have a reaction to catnip. It also seems to be in the genes – if a cat who doesn’t react has kittens, it is likely that the kittens won’t react either.

Fun fact: The majority of cats in Australia don’t react to catnip.

Catnip also affects cats besides the housecats – tigers, leopards, lions and other wild cats.

And it repels bugs! Mosquitoes, termites, roaches, and flies hate it. The chemicals are stronger than DEET! Sadly, it loses it’s superpower when applied to the skin. But still, this makes me want to plant catnip all over the place. Arkansas has some serious mosquito problems.

And as for humans… oddly enough, when ingested as a tea, it can act like a sedative.

If you have followed along with Wonder Wednesdays long, you probably noticed that I usually use stock images for them. However, in this edition of Wonder Wednesday, all the photos are mine. These are all lovely cats I’ve had over the years. Some have passed away, and others I gave away as kittens.

The cats (from the top down) are Scout, Bullet, Rabbit, Sissy (the tabby), Skippy (the black one), Lion, and Tux. ❤