Science Expo 1870
Inside ElectricityMysteries of the DeepWondrous MaterialsMarine AdvancesInvestigating Failure
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Gutta-Percha Plant Processing Gutta-Percha Wondrous Materials

Science is finding ways to exploit truly remarkable substances found in nature, like gutta-percha, a natural plastic that comes from a type of Asian tree. It is used to insulate underwater telegraphy cables.

In their laboratories, chemists are finding or creating materials with useful physical properties including pliability, strength, electrical conductivity, and water resistance. The results of this work can be unpredictable -- and dangerous. Alfred Nobel, the Swedish chemist who patented dynamite in 1867, lost his brother Emil in a fatal explosion during the research process.

Still, the advantages of new materials are all around us. Everyone knows how Charles Goodyear's vulcanized rubber has improved life jackets, shoes, waterproof clothing, and more. A new machine, the Bessemer converter, has made iron smelting and steel refinement less costly, improving ship and railway design. Scientists are also improving the chemical process used in photography.

Hemp and Flax Dressing Machine Bessemer Converter
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