FACT or FICTION:
Charles Goodyear founded the Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company.
While Charles Goodyear did invent the process of vulcanizing
rubber, he did not found the company that bears his name. Then who
did start the Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company? It was Frank
Seiberling in 1898; he named it Goodyear as a tribute to Charles
Goodyear 38 years after Goodyear died. So the first one is FICTION.
FACT or FICTION: The person who established the Nobel Prizes also
How ironic would it be if the person who established the Nobel
Prizes also invented something that led to the deaths of thousands
of people? Oddly enough, this one's a FACT, as Alfred Nobel left
over $1 million in his will for the five awards: peace, physics,
chemistry, physiology and medicine, and literature.
FACT or FICTION: Presidential inventor Thomas Jefferson, who
established the U.S. Patent Office 11 years before he became
president, never patented any of his own inventions because he
considered patents to be an unfair monopoly.
This one is also a FACT. Jefferson invented many items that are
still in use today, including the swivel chair, the dumbwaiter and
double doors. He also introduced french fries and macaroni to
America, and he was our nation's first patent commissioner.
FACT or FICTION: The inventor of Liquid Paper was also the mother
of a band member of The Monkees.
Fact-a-mundo, as The Fonz would say. If you've been a loyal
reader since this column began in 2003, then you might remember that
the mother of Monkees guitarist Michael Nesmith sold her Liquid
Paper Corp. to Gillette for $47 million plus royalties. Maybe that's
why he skipped their 1997 reunion tour, as he certainly didn't need
[to top of second column]
FACT or FICTION: The world's first metal detector was used to try
to save a U.S. president's life.
The inventor was Alexander Graham Bell, and he used his metal
detector to try to locate a bullet that had wounded President James
Garfield, so this one's a FACT. Every time the metal detector made a
buzzing noise, the doctors assumed that they had found the location
of the bullet, so they continued to probe his body looking for it.
The metal turned out to be the metal springs of President Garfield's
bed, so the metal detector, along with the doctors, probably did
more harm than good. President Garfield died soon afterward.
FACT or FICTION: The inventor of the World Wide Web chose not to
patent the Web so that it could reach its full potential and so that
everyone could have access to it.
Since you know that you don't have to pay to use the Web, this
one must be FACT. The Web's inventor, Tim Berners-Lee, probably
would have faced at least 600 lawsuits from imposters claiming to
have invented it, just as Alexander Graham Bell did when his "other"
invention became a big hit.
That's a good one to end today's story with. And that's a FACT.
Paul Niemann's column is syndicated
to more than 70 newspapers. He is the author of the "Invention
Mysteries" series of books. He can be reached at
Copyright Paul Niemann 2008