Fun Facts and Interesting Information from Around the World


The origin of radar (originally an abbreviation for radio detection and ranging) can be traced to the German researcher Christian Hulsmeyer, who in 1904 demonstrated a radio wave warning system that detected the interruption of a radio beam for ships. At the Naval Research Laboratory in the United States in 1922, A. Hoyt Taylor and… read more »

wide-screen motion pictures

As part of the effort to make motion picture theaters more competitive with television in the 1950s, several systems of wide-screen cinematography came into use in that decade, along with the brief fad of threedimensional motion pictures. In some systems, the same 35-millimeter film was employed; in others, a 70-millimeter-wide film was used. A French… read more »

radio telescope

In 1932 Karl Jansky, an American researcher at Bell Labs, received radio waves apparently coming from empty interstellar space. Over the next 15 years these radio waves remained a mystery, until more sensitive radio equipment, developed during World War II, was applied to the phenomenon. The first radio telescopes, designed to sort out and register… read more »

radiocarbon dating

The process by which the radioactive decay of the isotope [V] carbon 14 or 14C can be used to date the point in time when a particular piece of vegetable or animal matter died was invented by Willard Libby (1908–1980), an American physicist, in about 1947. He had worked on methods of separating uranium isotopes… read more »

radio-thermal generator

A radio-thermal generator or RTG (also known as radioisotope thermoelectric generator) is a device that uses the heat derived from the decay of a radioactive isotope [V] to generate electricity. The first demonstrated RTG was produced in 1958 and displayed by President Dwight D. Eisenhower in January 1959. The Martin Company of Baltimore accomplished the… read more »


The snorkel was invented in 1938 in Holland, as a device to allow submarines [V] to take in air that would allow diesel engines to operate while submerged. When Germany invaded Holland in 1940, they acquired the device and gave it the name schnorkel or schnorchel. In English the term has usually been spelled snorkel…. read more »


Streptomycin was discovered by Dr. Selman A. Waksman (1888–1973), a Ukrainian-born biochemist who immigrated to the United States. Waksman worked as a professor of soil microbiology at Rutgers University in New Jersey from 1918 to 1958. He had studied microorganisms in soil, and after one of his students, R. Dubos, isolated the powerful antibacterial tyrothricin… read more »


With the development of motion pictures [V] and their popularity during the 1910s and 1920s, many experimenters sought to improve the medium with the development of color photography. From 1926 to 1933, three researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)—D. F. Comstock, H. T. Kalmus, and W. B. Westcott—worked on perfecting a system that… read more »


Teflon, a plastic material technically known by its abbreviation PTFE, for polytetrafluoroethylene, was discovered by a Du Pont chemist, Roy Plunkett, in 1938. The material is an excellent insulator and is extremely slippery, resisting adherence. Applications proliferated after World War II, with the concept of developing nonstick cookware occurring in several locations in about 1952…. read more »