Ghosts of Students Past

Yesterday I received a Facebook message from a friend that I haven’t spoken to in a while. We met through a project – the school that I worked at did an annual concert with an orchestra and he was the composer for the music that we performed.

He now works for my former University that is currently moving to a new building. When he was cleaning out some of the cupboards, he found this:

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Things I Love About My Country #2: Inventions

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I’ve teamed up with the lovely Steve Says to compile a set of comparison lists about why we love our countries. He’s Scottish, I’m English and even though we are both currently part of the United Kingdom we thought that it might be fun to see the differences between the two…

This week’s subject is inventions and their inventors. I had to be careful on this one – England has produced some of the greatest scientist in the history of the world – Sir Isaac Newton, Ernest Rutherford, Charles Darwin, Michael Faraday, Stephen Hawking to name just a few, but these didn’t invent anything as such, they were able to discover and explain the universe around them.

1. The World Wide Web (not to be confused with the Internet): Created by Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the World Wide Web is a system of interlinked hypertext documents that can be accessed through the Internet. With a web browser it is possible to view web pages and navigate them using hyperlinks.

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2. Christmas Cards: The first Christmas card was commissioned by Henry Cole and designed by John Calcott Horsely. There were 2,500 cards originally produced and sold for a shilling each.

3. DNA Fingerprinting: This was developed in the 1980’s by Sir Alec Jeffreys. Using this technique it was possible to identify a person based on their unique DNA profile in their genes. I still find it difficult to imagine a world without it – it is used throughout the criminal justice system, and where would talk show hosts be without it??

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4. The Sandwich: Contrary to popular belief, English food is exciting, varied and tasty. However, of all the culinary creations that England has produced, the biggest contribution to gastronomy is the sandwich. While it is possible to trace sandwich-like food back to 18th Century Europe, it is named after the Earl of Sandwich, who was said to like meat being placed between two pieces of bread

5. The Smallpox Vaccine (the worlds first vaccination): introduced by Edward Jenner in 1798, the smallpox vaccine has been so successful that smallpox is considered to be virtually extinct from the planet, aside from remaining in a few laboratories. It is also thought to have some protection against the HIV virus.

6. Ice Hockey: Sorry Canada, but Ice Hockey was a version of field hockey that was created by British soldiers based in Canada.

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7. Jet Engine: Ever flown to another country on an aeroplane? You’re welcome – the jet engine was created by Englishman Frank Whittle in 1928. The are lots of squabbles about who actually came up with original ideas, but the patent was awarded to him in 1932.

8. Mass – Produced Toothbrush: The English wrongly have a reputation for having bad teeth, but they were responsible for the first mass-produced toothbrush.

Stay tuned for the next instalment next Tuesday!

You can also find me on Twitter and Tumblr @suzie81blog