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Everyday things you can’t live without that originated in the military

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Everyday things

you can’t live without

that originated in

the military

Your daily life is filled with products that originated in the military. If you’re reading this on your computer, you’re using one right now. War times are times of scarcity and result in innovation and more efficient use of what is available, resulting in products that are used every day by billions of people around the world! While most of these products result in time saving and convenience, increasingly, weather conditions and pollution have created necessities for certain products normally used in times of war to be used for daily protection against these elements. Pollution mask is one of those products. Below are a few items that owe their existence to the military:

Duct tape

From making splints for fractures and sprains, to stopping leaks, duct tape can be used to fix just about everything. It was invented by Johnson&Johnson during World War II and was meant for sealing ammunition cases. During the Vietnam War, the military used it to fix helicopter rotor blades. Duct tape started selling in hardware stores for commercial and home use after the war.

Duct tape is also used during spaceflight. Jerry Woodfill, a NASA engineer, says that astronauts ensure to carry duct tape on every mission in case of emergencies.

Microwave oven

The microwave was invented by Percy Spencer, an American engineer, in 1945. At the time, he was employed by Raytheon, and was working on a project involving radar technology.

He discovered, by chance, that the radar sets he was working on were emitting heat waves, which were melting the candy he had in his pocket. He then tried to cook food by directing the waves into a metal box; the temperature of the food rose.

Percy’s design was patented in 1945 and started selling in 1947.

Drones (think Amazon)

During and after the First and Second World Wars and the Cold War, the U.S and other countries used unmanned crafts for assault and intelligence gathering. The military still uses drones to date. 

Over time, the cost of drone technology has reduced, resulting in their production for use by government agencies and private citizens. Individuals and companies use drones for sports coverage, tv&movie production and for recreational purposes. Retail giants such as Amazon and Domino’s pizza are also working on using drones for making deliveries to their customers.  

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Gas masks and respirators

Previous blog outlined the history of respirators, but its use in the military is best dated back to the fifteenth century, when Leonardi da Vinci designed explosive shells filled with arsenic and sulfur for use against ships. Furthermore, outbreak of respiratory diseases like the Spanish flu in the post world war period prompted the rapid advancement of masks for civilian use. Cambridge Masks’ military technology is still used today for protection against biological, chemical and nuclear hazards. In our masks, however, it is used for protection against bacteria and viruses – the filter material is comprised of a series of activated carbon filaments, each about 2,000 nanometres in diameter. The pores in each filament are 25 times smaller than those in standard carbon materials, and therefore more powerful. This means that bacteria and viruses are drawn to the surface from further away. 

GPS

GPS was invented and used in the 1960s for military intelligence during the Cold War. Its application for civilian purposes started in 1983. Availability of low-cost smartphones has made GPS available to a majority of the world’s population. Manufacturers of motor-vehicles also use GPS in car navigation systems. Other uses include monitoring earthquakes, geo-caching and map making.

The internet

The World Wide Web, which was invented in the late 80s-early 90s, was first conceptualised by military researchers in the 1960s. Back in the 60s, DARPA (Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency), then known as ARPA, worked on building a system for sharing information between computers and this idea is what guided the builders of the world wide web.

Hats

Hats like the knit-skull cap popular among skateboarders, or jeep caps, were made to be worn under soldiers’ helmets in the Second World War. Although baseball caps date back to 1860, the adjustable Velcro version is attributed to the military.

Panty hose

During the Second World War, Japan’s economic warfare tactic was to stop supplying silk to the US. This led to a shortage of silk stockings, which was predicted by DuPont in the mid-1930s. In turn, DuPont preemptively started looking for a synthetic fiber that would replace silk and called it ‘nylon’. Women of America had to wait until after the war to get their hands on the new stockings (that sold a whopping 64,000 in the first year), as production was redirected to producing parachutes and tents for American soldiers. Understandably, when stockings were produced again in 1945, DuPont could not keep up with demand, which in turn lead to nylon riots as women flocked stores in hordes.

Today, nylon is one of the most popular synthetic fiber in the world, with more uses than just making panty hose.

Thanks for reading!

Stay Healthy,

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