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 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 – Who invented margarine and how is it made?

Who invented margarine (also called Oleomargarine) and how is it made?

(Grab some popcorn and the drink of your choice – this is going to be a longish article.)

Image Credit: Pixabay

Answer: Firstly, I want to touch on how butter came along because I want to compare that to margarine. Milk was carried in skin bags on long trips, and the motion of the animal it was attached to – some say horses, others say camels – as it walked sloshed the milk almost as if it were being churned and at the end of the trip, they opened the skin bags and found butter. Or at least, that’s the myth… but the main point is, it comes from milk.

Whatever the case, one source says that butter has been around for around 4,000 years! Just think – that’s when Abraham was supposed to have lived. Did he eat butter on his bread while in the land of Ur? I guess only he and God know that for sure now. 😉

The word “butter” comes from a combination of Greek words. Bous (meaning cow) and turos (meaning cheese). I wonder then, what they called actual cheese they made from cow’s milk? However, that’s for another post another day, I suppose. 😉

So now we look at butter’s competition, which didn’t come along until 1869. (Butter had no rival for over 3,800 years! What a monopoly!) That’s the year when a French chemist named Hippolyte Mège-Mouriès (yes, I copied the name from the source link above – I didn’t want to butcher his name XD) created a cheaper spread made from beef tallow. Which is another way of saying beef fat. Ew. 😝 Anyway.

Mr. Hippolyte called his beef fat spread “oleomargarine,” which comes from the Latin word “oleum” (meaning beef fat) and the Greek margarite (meaning pearl). I find it odd that he combined two languages to name his beef fat spread. And how strange is “Beef Fat Pearl?” Ew. Anyway.

Emperor Louis Napoleon III offered a prize for a patented cheap spread that would benefit the lower class, and while he was at it, feed it to the military. I’m sure they really appreciated that. (Note the sarcasm there.) No wonder Napoleon lost the Battle of Waterloo if he was feeding his army that stuff…

(Oh, that was in 1815 and not the same Napoleon? Then nevermind.) I digress… getting back on topic…

Mr. Hippolyte sold his patent to a Dutch company specializing in making butter – and now oleomargarine.

Sadly, Mr. Hippolyte died in 1880 as poor as the people he was aiming to sell his beef fat pearl spread to. Indeed, it must have been hard for him, because he lived long enough to see that the oleomargarine was gaining international fame, and he wasn’t getting paid anything.

The beef fat spread found its way to America in the 1870’s, to the dismay of American dairy farmers. And this is when the butter wars began…

Tune in next week for part two of the history of oleomargarine!

Also, out of curiosity, how many of you guys call it Oleo? In my research, I came across several people calling it that. I’ve always heard “margarine.” My dad said that his grandma called it Oleo. This was a new word for me. 😅

Wonder Wednesdays – Bursting Bubbles

Why are bubbles round?

Image Credit: Pixabay

Answer: A sphere has the smallest amount of surface area of all the shapes. The surface tension makes the thin film of soap water that is the bubble try to get as small as it can be. Therefore – if I understand this correctly – if you see free falling water drops such as rain, the water drops are round as well. (The oblong shape is caused by the decent to the Earth – if it wasn’t for that, it would be round.) But because a person exhaled and trapped air inside the enclosed sphere of soapy water, the bubble can’t become a drop because the air inside pushes against the film of soap and water.

The pushing of the air and the pulling of the soapy water are equal and opposite reactions, so you end up with…

A bubble.

When blowing a bubble, the film gets thinner and thinner as it tries to wrap around the air being forced inside, and if one keeps going, one will find the point when the amount of soap required to wrap around the air pocket has run out and then…

Pop goes the bubble.

Wonder Wednesdays – Flammable Water

Why doesn’t water burn?

Image credit: Pixabay

Think about it for a moment. Hydrogen is flammable. Oxygen is flammable. Water is H2O. Why when you put them together can you put out a fire with it? Shouldn’t it burn?

Answer: I must admit, I don’t understand the formula – chemistry isn’t my strong suit. If you want to read the formula, then you can find that here, which is where I found the answer to my question. If you’re like me and can’t quite wrap your head around the formulas, then here is the short and sweet answer: Water is the product of a chemical reaction, and thus, has lost all its react-y superpowers because it has already reacted to become what it is. Therefore, we can put out fires with a hydrogen-oxygen mix. Pretty cool, huh? 🙂

**This was posted earlier, but for some reason, it posted back in time to June 7th. I’m not sure why all my posts keep getting backdated like this, but it is starting to drive me nuts. 😆 Anyway, this is the first installment of Wonder Wednesdays, and I just added a “Wonder Wednesdays” category link in the header menu for easier navigation. 😀

I wonder. Do you ever wonder?

Raindrops on grass

I Wonder

I wonder…
Why bubbles are round
Like clear floating soccer balls.
Why do they burst?
Why do they form at all?
I watch it as it floats away…

Don’t you lose your sense of wonder
Never stop asking why
Let your imagination wander
Let your imagination fly

I wonder…
What is fire?
It has no substance
As it grows taller
And joyfully dances
Until it turns its energy source
To ashes.

Don’t you lose your sense of wonder
Never stop asking why
Let your imagination wander
Let your imagination fly

Why can’t we breathe oxygen in water?
Why is each of the prints on our thumbs
Do you wonder why we wonder?
Where does our curiosity come from?

Don’t you lose your sense of wonder
Never stop asking why
Let your imagination wander
Let your imagination fly

Do you ever wonder why things are the way that they are? Sometimes I get too curious. And that is what inspired this idea – a new series in which I find answers to questions that most people probably never thought to ask. 🙂 Sometimes they explore how God’s wonderful world works, and sometimes curiosity tries to kill the cat lady on other man-made things or word origins. And as an added bonus – I get to practice my essay writing skills. 🙂 Stay tuned for Wonder Wednesdays – it may not be every Wednesday, but hopefully at least every other Wednesday! ❤

(If you are seeing this twice, I apologize – somehow when I posted it, WordPress posted it in the past, on June 7th. XD I have no idea how that happened – I didn’t schedule it, I clicked “publish” – but it has happened before and it looks like I need to keep a better eye on it so I don’t have to move the posting date back to present day.  😅)