By Jonathan van Bilsen
We take so many things for granted during our everyday existence. It made me wonder the origin of some of them. For example, did you know the bicycle was invented following the summer of 1816, when a massive volcanic eruption caused worldwide famine? People could not feed their horses and killed them for meat, so Baron Karl von Drais invented a new form of transport. It certainly caught on.
The birth control pill was invented by John Rock, a devout Catholic who earlier ran a clinic which taught Catholicism-approved birth control methods. He thought the church might embrace his new invention. Boy, was he wrong.
A fellow named Wilson Greatbatch was trying to detect a heartbeat by using a piece of electronic equipment he was working on. He mistakenly used the wrong transistor, so his device sent heart pulses out instead. He called it the pacemaker.
Travel agencies are everywhere and quite popular. The first travel agent was Thomas Cook. He started selling tickets to give British people something to do besides drink, since he was a member of the temperance movement.
We all associate Braille with a reading and writing system for people who are visually impaired, but it was originally created for military purposes. Napoleon tasked Charles Barbier, a captain in his army, with developing a system by which soldiers could communicate silently, day or night. The system Barbier devised became known as "night writing," a code consisting of cells of up to 12 raised dots symbolizing every letter of the French alphabet and then some. The military hated the idea, so Barbier took his encoding system to the National Institute for the Blind, in Paris, to see if there was a potential use for it. It was there that he met a 15-year-old boy by the name of Louis Braille. After discussing the system, Braille proceeded to transform it into something workable. Braille reduced the number of dots into a two-by-six cell that neatly fit beneath a single fingertip, thereby creating the first viable system, allowing the Blind to read, not to mention etching his name directly over top of Barbier's in the history books.
For those of you in Port Perry, you are no doubt familiar with Palmer Park, named after the alleged father of chiropractic. D.D Palmer was a spiritualist, who claimed to have received the idea from a ghost, and said chiropractic can heal your soul and raise your intellect. I have no comment on this one.
Jonathan van Bilsen is a television host, award-winning photographer, published author, columnist and keynote speaker. Watch his show, 'Jonathan van Bilsen's photosNtravel', on RogersTV, the Standard Website or YouTube.