8 Brilliant African American Inventors You Need to Know About

February is Black History Month, a time for us all to reflect on and highlight the incredible, but often overlooked, contributions that brilliant African American scientists, activists, freedom fighters, teachers, doctors, etc. have made towards the success of this great nation and their own communities.

Today, we’re remembering these 8 African American inventors who shaped the world we live in today.

#1. Jan Ernst Matzeliger

Photo Credit: Public Domain

The common person struggled to afford shoes in the 19th century, but that fact changed when Dutch Guiana immigrant Jan Ernst Matzeliger invented an automated machine that attached a shoe’s upper part to its sole. The device could make 700 pairs of shoes a day, while a worker was only able to sew about 50.

The lowered production costs led to lower shoe prices, and the average American foot thanked him.

#2. Mark E. Dean

Photo Credit: University of Tennessee

Dean was a computer scientists and engineer who worked for IBM leading the team that designed the ISA bus – a hardware interface that allowed multiple devices like printers, modems, and keyboards to all be plugged into a computer.

He also helped develop the first color computer monitor, and in 1999 helped create the world’s first gigahertz chip. He holds 3 of IBM’s original 9 patents and 20 overall.

He was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 1997 and is currently a professor at the University of Tennessee.

#3. George Carruthers

Photo Credit: Public Domain

An astrophysicist who spent his career working with the Space Science Division of the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, D.C., George Carruthers is most famous for creating the ultraviolet camera/spectograph. NASA used the technology to launch Apollo 16 in 1972, and it helped prove that molecular hydrogen existed in space. It was used again in 1974 to help scientists observe Halley’s Comet on the U.S.’s first space station.

He was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 2003.

#4. Dr. Patricia Bath

Photo Credit: Public Domain

Dr. Bath revolutionized the field of ophthalmology by inventing a device that refined laser cataract surgery. She patented the Laserphaco Probe in 1988 and is the first female African American doctor to receive a medical patent.

Her research on health disparities between African American patients and other patients created a new discipline called community ophthalmology. She and other volunteers continue to offer primary care and treatment to under-served populations.

#5. Marie Van Brittan Brown

Photo Credit: Pixabay

A nurse and inventor, Marie Van Brittan Brown invented a precursor to the modern home TV security system. Her invention was born of a desire to feel safe in her NYC neighborhood, where she and her husband developed a way for a motorized camera to project images onto a TV monitor.

They filed for their patent in 1966 and it was approved in 1969.

#6. Thomas L. Jennings

Photo Credit: Pixabay

Jennings was the first African American person to receive a U.S. patent – he invented an early method of dry cleaning in 1821. He fought for his right as a free man to apply for and receive the patent despite his skin color and paved the way for future inventors of color to gain rights for their own inventions.

He used the money he earned to free the rest of his family and to donate to abolitionist causes.

#7. Alexander Miles

Photo Credit: Pixabay

We don’t know much about the life of Alexander Miles, who lived from 1830-1918, other than the fact that he was living in Duluth, MN, when he designed the first automatic doors for elevators. The safety feature saved travelers from accidentally falling into the shaft as they manually opened and closed the doors, and today’s elevators use similar technology.

#8. Charles Richard Drew

Dr. Drew with his wife and children
Photo Credit: NIH

Charles Richard Drew was a surgeon who created America’s first major blood banks. He studied transfusion medicine and refined key methods of collecting, processing, and storing plasma.

He’s also responsible for introducing “bloodmobiles,” and was the first African American doctor chosen as an examiner for the American Board of Surgery.

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Interactive Maps Show How Climate Change Could Affect Your City

While there are still a decent amount of folks in government and civilian life who believe climate change isn’t real (or that it’s “not that bad”), the facts are undeniable: our planet is changing at an alarming pace.

Two interactive maps, one from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and one from the University of Maryland’s Center for Environmental Science, show how climate change might affect every part of the U.S. in 80 years and 60 years, respectively.

Photo Credit: Public Domain Pictures

You can explore the maps for yourself HERE and HERE, but let’s break down some of the findings from the maps.

This overview image is particularly telling. It shows what the climate of different cities might look like in 2080 based on current emissions trend-lines. As you can see, in only 60 years (within your lifetime?) Minneapolis will likely feel more like Oklahoma, assuming no successful action is taken to curb greenhouse gases.

According to the research, here’s what what it might feel like Los Angeles in 60 years.

Here is a snapshot of the Southeastern United States, focusing on Charlotte, North Carolina.

How will the Big Apple fare in 2080? Take a look.

NYC’s temperature will feel more like that of Jonesboro, Arkansas, which is more than 9 degrees warmer and 20% drier during the summer than the people of New York currently experience. And if you’ve ever been through a summer in New York, you know that if it got 9 degrees hotter…well, it’s pretty horrific to imagine.

Chicago has been in the news lately for its extreme cold weather, but in 60 years the weather in the Windy City might feel more like northeast Kansas.

As if Dallas wasn’t hot and sticky enough in the summertime, in 2080 the climate might feel more like that of New Orleans.

A final example from the 2080 map, from Miami, Florida:

The map from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which is a little more difficult to figure out, allows you to explore how climate change might affect cities and towns in the U.S. from 2010 to 2100 and also offers historical climate data from 1950 to 2010.  Here is an example.

The average daily maximum temperature in for Cook County, Illinois (which includes Chicago).

Photo Credit: NOAA

As you can see, it’s already warmed up, and it’ll just keep on getting hotter and hotter.

Look, the more we know about climate change, the better – and that means politicians, scientists, and normal citizens like you and me. It’s no longer an excuse to say “I’m not a scientist,” cause the scientists have made maps that do all the work for you. We’re not gonna solve this problem on a small individual scale. It’s time to pull together folks!

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There’s A Reason Some People Stay Skinny Despite Eating Like a Horse

Everybody always has that one friend – you know, the one who can take down a whole pizza and some beer all by themselves, then turn around and ask for dessert… all while maintaining their seemingly impossibly svelte physique. Oh, and they don’t work out either. Nope, they just go around eating whatever they like with no consequences at all. No pounds piling on, no ours of atonement at the gym. Must be nice.

Well, you’ll be interested in the results of this study, which claims to have the answers…though they’re probably not going to make you feel any better.

Basically, your body type depends on the genes you were born with far more than on any diet or exercise routine you employ as an adult.

Photo Credit: Pixabay

The new research aimed to pinpoint the genetic architecture of skinniness and severe obesity, and their findings, published in PLOS Genetics, could help explain why some people find staying thin easy while others have the opposite experience.

That is not to say that environmental factors like high-calorie diets or sedentary lifestyles don’t play any role, but obesity, as many people have realized, is more complex than eating too much fast food.

The study leader, Professor Sadaf Farooqi, issued this statement:

“This research shows for the first time that healthy thin people are generally thin because they have a lower burden of genes that increase a person’s chances of being overweight and not because they are morally superior, as some people like to suggest. It’s easy to rush to judgement and criticize people for their weight, but the science shows that things are far more complex. We have far less control over our weight than we might wish to think.”

Photo Credit: Pixabay

No one tell the billion-dollar diet industry that they’re bunk.

Or wait. Maybe we should.

This study included the DNA of around 14,000 people – 1622 thin people, 1985 obese people, and 10433 people with average body mass, and identified the genes linked to slimmer people. Adds researcher Dr. Ines Barroso,

“As anticipated, we found that obese people had a higher genetic risk score than normal weight people, which contributes to their risk of being overweight. The genetic dice are loaded against them.”

The research supports previous studies, which have suggested that though a number of variables dictate weight gain (or loss), your natural metabolism has a lot to do with how you look.

Photo Credit: Pixabay

With obesity posing a huge health risk, particularly in Western countries like the US and the UK, these researchers hope their findings will help doctors and laypeople alike gain a more attenuated understanding of what causes it – and how we can adjust our weight-loss strategies accordingly.

The study might also lead to different approaches in the future, as our science continues to advance. Professor Farooqi suggests,

“If we can find the genes that prevent them from putting on weight, we may be able to target those genes to find new weight loss strategies and help people who do not have this advantage.”

Which is to say, you might be able to find a diet and exercise routine that compliment your genetic makeup, therefore not applying unrealistic standards and goals in each specific case.

We can dream, anyway.

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New Study Finds that Bigger Dogs Make Better Pets

Small dog owners beware: you may not lie to hear this.

Recently, a study published in Applied Animal Behavior Science sought to answer whether big or small dogs make better pets. The researchers examined a variety of criteria, including obedience, aggression, excitability, and anxiety.

Photo Credit: Pixabay

Going into the study, they believed they would find that smaller dogs displayed less obedience and more of the negative behaviors like aggression and anxiety, and their findings supported their suspicions: bigger dogs do in fact make better, more laid-back pets.

However, that could be our own fault. Owners of small dogs reported treating them differently than their larger counterparts. They didn’t engage in as many training and play activities and also reported fewer uses of punishment and reward tools when training smaller dogs.

Photo Credit: Pixabay

Owners who used positive reinforcement and reward-based training with smaller dogs saw an increase in obedience and a decrease in anxious and fear behaviors.

The paper concluded that owners of smaller dogs would do well to spend more time training and playing with their dogs and correcting unwanted behaviors with rewards, since punishments can reinforce fear and fear-related aggression.

Photo Credit: Pixabay

So while it is true that small dogs tend to be more anxious and prone to aggressive fear responses than their larger counterparts, it’s at least partly because people are more likely to treat them like babies and not animals. If you have a small dog, it’s important to remember that it needs to be played with and trained like any other canine, and that the responsibility is yours to reinforce behaviors positively to soothe their natural anxieties.

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Here’s Why You Should Reconsider Heating up Your Car in Cold Weather

For those of us in the United States, this year has been a particularly cold, wet winter. As I write this, there’s a major snowstorm blanketing the East Coast, and seasoned natives of these cold parts know that warming up your car is an important step for keeping your car running smoothly throughout the winter. A 2009 study showed that most Americans believe that, when temperatures drop to below freezing, you should let your car idle for at least 4 minutes before driving off.

Unfortunately, it turns out there are several reasons why starting your car up and letting it run isn’t the best idea. Read on to find out why you shouldn’t make it a habit.

Photo Credit: Pixabay

According to Stephen Ciatti (whose credentials include drag racing and a PhD in mechanical engineering), newer model cars don’t need to idle to “warm up,” and the practice can actually lead to a shorter lifespan for your engine.

Older car models relied on carburetors, and frigid weather did pose a threat to their performance because the cold temperatures made the gasoline less likely to evaporate. That could lead to carburetors failing to get the right mixture of air and fuel to the engine, which could cause cars to stall out.

Photo Credit: Pixabay

Since the 1980s, however, most cars have been made with electronic fuel injection. That means your car is aware of the colder temperatures and can adjust automatically by introducing more gasoline to compensate. So if you let your newer engine idle, you’re subjecting your engine to more gasoline-rich fuel than necessary. That could lead to trouble, says Ciatti.

“Gasoline is an outstanding solvent and it can actually wash oil off the combustion chamber’s walls if you run it in the cold idle conditions for an extended period of time and can have a detrimental effect on the lubrication and life of things like piston rings and cylinder liners.”

Photo Credit: Pixabay

Once your engine reaches a temperature of around 40 degrees, the car switches back to its usual fuel mixture, but “warming it up” doesn’t help it reach that point any faster. The fastest way to heat up your engine is to just drive.

Bundle up, though, because it will take your engine between 5 and 15 minutes to climb to a normal temperature from the time you hit the gas.

Spring is coming though, y’all. The groundhog says so.

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Ladies: Your Height Can Affect the Length of Your Pregnancy

Anyone who’s ever been pregnant can attest to how endless those final few weeks can feel. You’ve waited months to meet your little one (and also to see your feet again), and the closer your due date gets the slower time seems to crawl by.

Photo Credit: Pixabay

It turns out, though, that how tall you are might have something to do with the length of your pregnancy, so I suppose my wife should be blaming genetics.

Back in 2015, a study in the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology found a correlation between height and gestational length. Their research shows that moms who are shorter than 5’4 tend to have shorter pregnancies by .6 or .7 weeks – they also tend to have more early term births.

Photo Credit: Pixabay

Also of note: a 2013 study by the National Institutes for Health found that only 4% of pregnancies last 40 weeks, and 70% of mothers give birth within 10 days of their due date.

There are some other factors we know of that also seem to influence when babies decide it’s time to emerge: embryos that take longer to implant tend to be born later, and older mothers and mothers who were large at birth tend to have longer pregnancies.

Photo Credit: Pixaaby

If you’ve already had a longer pregnancy, you’re also more likely to have another long gestation, as research has found that women tend to have consistent pregnancy lengths overall.

Unfortunately, there’s no real way to predict when you’ll go into labor, but if you’re a tall, older mom who was also a big baby, you might want to settle in for the long haul.

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8 Fun Facts to Spruce Up Your Conversation Skills

If you’re the type of person who gets nervous during conversations for lack of something interesting to say, fear not – we’ve got you covered. These fun facts are great at starting or maintaining conversations, whether it’s at a work function, or just to impress a guy or gal at your local bar.

So you have my permission to use these in conversation as you see fit. Good luck!

1. Not the same story

Photo Credit: did you know?

2. Based on history

Photo Credit: did you know?

3. LEGO

Photo Credit: did you know?

4. No more edits

Photo Credit: did you know?

5. Bet you didn’t know that

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6. That’s a long way to travel

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7. GW

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8. That’s why that happens

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Interesting!

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The scientists who first discovered…

The scientists who first discovered the platypus thought it was fake. Although indigenous Aboriginal people already knew of the creature, European scientists assumed an egg-laying, duck-billed, beaver-tailed, otter-footed, venomous mammal had to be an elaborate hoax.

10+ People Who are Clueless About How the Female Body Works

If you’ve been on the internet at all, you know that misinformation is an epidemic. Particularly when it comes to sexuality and health, it seems like thousands of people out there skipped their high school health classes altogether.

Oh, sure, everyone thinks they’re an expert. But what they really “know” about female anatomy is horrifyingly, hilariously incorrect. Some think girls pee out of their vaginas. Others think periods are made out of the blood of dead babies. You know, fun stuff like that.

So sit back, relax and laugh.

1. This dude tried to write something snarky on the comment section of an Onion article titled, “Frustrated Gunman Can’t Believe How Far He Has to Drive to Find Nearest Planned Parenthood Clinic.” He became a bigger joke than the article. (via MsManifesto)

Photo Credit: Reddit

2. Redditor _ahsatan started a conversation about female anatomy when they had to explain that you don’t pee out of your clitoris.

I just taught my sister-in-law (26) and my husband (31) that women do not, in fact, pee from the clit. What are the most ridiculous ideas you’ve heard about the female body?

3. thumper5 responded to _ahsatan with a period myth women wish were true.

That you can “hold” your period blood the same way you can hold your pee. I had an incredibly stupid boyfriend once that wouldn’t stop at a gas station on our way someplace because he thought I could just hold it til we got there.

ETA: that women only use one pad/tampon per period. That pads/tampons/etc aren’t necessary hygiene items.

4. Through all the spelling errors and profanity, it seems this woman thinks that vaginas smell because of years of semen building up inside? (via Reddit user lady-linux)

Photo Credit: Imgur

5. wicksa, a labor and delivery nurse, had many stories to share about female anatomy myths that will make you want to campaign for sex-ed in all schools immediately.

Oh, my time to shine! I am an L&D nurse and I hear some weird shit, especially from teen moms.

“My friend told me that if I douched with sprite after having sex, I couldn’t get pregnant.” – 16 year old in labor

“I tried to schedule a c section because my pussy is really tight and I know a baby ain’t gonna fit through there. The doctor wouldn’t let me.” The baby did indeed fit with no assistance (meaning no vaccuum or forceps, a doctor was totally there haha).

5 foot tall 120 lb girl who looks so pregnant it’s like she swallowed a beach ball, hasn’t had her period in 9+ months, is sexually active, shows up to ER with abdominal pains (contractions!): “I didn’t know I was pregnant.”

“I’m not going to breastfeed because I am afraid it will turn me on too much. I like nipple play during sex.”

6. This man tries to correlate the thigh gap to the size of one’s vagina, even though it seems pretty obvious that no one would ever let him near their vag. (via Redditor dustinyo_)

Photo Credit: Reddit

Photo Credit: Reddit

Photo Credit: Reddit

Photo Credit: Reddit

7. Even though this commenter has had given birth to two children of her own, she still does not understand how pregnancy works. (via Gingevere)

Photo Credit: Imgur

I dont think that there is enough space for a baby in there. I’ve had 2 kids and they both liked 2 move around and that wouldn’t have been possible in such a Tiny bell. Everyone carries different but working out like that and leaving your baby with little space is not okay. A baby needs 2 tumble en move around. Dont be selfish and workout hardcore 2 keep super thin.

8. Redditor katiedid05 posted this unsettling screenshot of a teenager condescendingly explaining how the clitoris has to grow ten centimeters before giving birth.

Photo Credit: Someecards

sorry but in childbirth you clitoris will need to grow up to 10cm to actually give birth…thats why they say you need to be 10cm dialated to start pushing…im not even 18 yet and i got that one right :/

9. midnasays found this perplexing meme that tries to slut shame women who prefer to use pads?

Photo Credit: Reddit

10. This poor woman thinks she needs a placenta transplant. (via pleasuretohaveinclas)

Photo Credit: Reddit

11. One time an anti-abortion lawmaker asked why women couldn’t just swallow a camera to expedite the process of getting a gynecological exams. Yes, a man who makes laws said this. (via Huffington Post)

During a debate over an anti-abortion bill, a Republican lawmaker in Idaho asked Monday whether women can just swallow a tiny camera in order to conduct a gynecological exam remotely with a doctor.

According to the Associated Press, Idaho Rep. Vito Barbieri (R) posed the bizarre question to Dr. Julie Madsen, who was testifying against a bill that would ban doctors from prescribing medication abortion via webcam unless they have examined the woman in person. Madsen had to explain to Barbieri that swallowed items, like pills, do not land in the vagina.

12. pizzaoverload shared this comment that they found on a YouTube video where a woman (Chris) announced that she got her period back after years of over-training and dieting.

Chris, I know I am male but I have always had somehow an internal sensing that women’s period is blood that is not up to standard and the body must get rid of it. As well as many females think something is wrong with them when they don’t have a period something tells me if your detoxing well through exercise and clean diet that if the body has clean blood and there is nothing to recycle out you just won’t have a period. Just like a lot of women of little bodyfat. I think a female loses their period because the body is that clean and detoxed. I see it as a good thing if this is the case. If this is the case then most females just are not optimal detoxed and the body has to force it through a period to keep the system clean. What are your thoughts is this possible? With Love JC.

13. In a horrifying true story, a so-called “sexual assault expert investigator” had to be told what a cervix was in court.

In the reinvestigation of the case of Kelli Smith, a young driver who killed a father of two while driving the wrong way down a one way street, it was discovered that the woman may have been slipped a date rape drug which caused the accident. Although initially there was no investigation into a possible rape, it was discovered that the woman sustained injuries to her cervix and was found at the scene of the crime without pants or underwear on. Sexual assault expert investigator Eric Stacks was called in to look into whether or not Smith was raped, which prompted defense attorney Jennifer Bukowsky to ask Stacks about the injury.

Bukowsky: In your experience with car crashes how many times do you see injuries to a cervix?

Stacks: I don’t know what you’re asking me, to a cervix?

Bukowsky: You don’t know what a cervix is?

Stacks: No. explain that to me, please.

14. This person thinks that the menstrual cycle is unnatural, and suggests basically starving yourself to stop it. (via PM_me_a_scary_thing from Reddit)

Photo Credit: Imgur

I mean, what the actual f*** people?

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