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An Unbreakable Story: The Lost Roman Invention of Flexible Glass

An Unbreakable Story: The Lost Roman Invention of Flexible Glass

Imagine a glass you can bend and then watch it return to its original form. Stories say that an ancient Roman glassmaker had the technology to create a flexible glass, ‘vitrium flexile’, but a certain emperor decided the invention should not be.

Flexible glass is allegedly a type of unbreakable glass that was invented during the Roman period. Man-made glass (as opposed to a naturally occurring one such as obsidian) is widely accepted to have been invented by the Phoenicians. Over the course of the millennia, glass-makers honed their skills, improving the techniques used to produce this substance, as well as the glass itself. In the Roman Empire, glass became a commonly produced item, though special luxury glasses were also created. Arguably one of the most intriguing of these glass types is the so-called flexible glass.

Roman glass. ( CC BY SA 2.0 )

Tales of the Famed Roman Glass

Flexible glass is said to be a legendary lost invention dating to the reign of the Roman Emperor Tiberius Caesar. Whilst no physical evidence of such a glass has been found so far, there are two main written sources attesting to its existence. One of these is Pliny the Elder’s Natural History , whilst the other is the Satyricon, commonly attributed to the Roman courtier Petronius. Whilst Pliny’s work is encyclopaedic in nature, that of Petronius is a piece of satire - showing how this incredible story was picked up by writers of different genres.

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In Natural History , Pliny reports that flexible glass was made by a glass-maker during the time of Tiberius Caesar. Instead of gaining the favor of the Roman emperor, said craftsman had his workshop shut down. This was meant to prevent the value of precious metals, i.e. gold, silver, and copper from being depreciated by this new material. A similar story is said to have been reported by Cassius Dio and Suetonius. Pliny expresses his doubts regarding the veracity of this story, as he mentions that “This story, however, was, for a long time, more widely spread than well authenticated.”

Tiberius Caesar. (Sailko/ CC BY SA 3.0 )

Petronius’ telling of the story in his Satyricon, on the other hand, may be described as a more dramatized version of the story told by Pliny. In the satirist’s account, the man who invented the flexible glass was granted an audience with the Roman emperor to show his work. After Tiberius examined the glass cup, he handed it back to the glass-maker, who proceeded to throw it with all his might on the floor. The emperor was shocked at what had happened, but the man calmly picked the cup up from the ground, showing the emperor that it was only dented. The glass-maker then took a little hammer to beat the glass, and in no time, the cup regained its original shape.

A Roman glass bowl. (Ashley Dace/ CC BY SA 2.0 )

The Roman glass-maker was confident that he had impressed the emperor, and was probably waiting to be rewarded for his ingenious creation. When the emperor asked if anybody else knew how to make this kind of flexible glass, the craftsman answered with a negative. Instead of receiving the reward he had hoped for, the glass-maker was executed, thus taking the secret of making flexible glass with him to his grave. The reason for this was that this Roman invention would cause gold to be devalued, as mentioned by Pliny.

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Is it Possible to Make Roman Flexible Glass?

Today, the story of Roman flexible glass is mainly treated in the same manner as it had been by Pliny, i.e. with much doubt. Nevertheless, there have been some speculations on how this glass may have been made. One of these, for instance, is that the Roman glass-maker had somehow had access to boric acid or borax, both of which can be found naturally. By adding a small percent of boric oxide to the glass mixture, the end result would be something that was relatively unbreakable. It may be added that borax was imported from the East into Europe on a regular basis during the Middle Ages, and it was used by goldsmiths as a flux.

Boric acid could also be found in the steam vents of the Tuscan Maremma to the north of Rome, though this was supposedly only realized during the 19th century. Nevertheless, it is possible that the glass-maker may have stumbled on this source by chance. In any case, it is likely that the recipe for Roman flexible glass, if it did exist at all, will continue to elude us, and remain a ‘lost invention of the Romans’.


    The three prehistoric accounts of the substance famous as the veteran flexible or the flexible glass aren’t clear enough in identifying that the substance really existed. The tale of the invention was initially told by Petronius.

    He wrote about the glassmaker that presented Emperor Tiberius with the glass vessel. He demanded the emperor in giving it back to him, at which point, a glassmaker threw it into the floor. This didn’t break but only dented, and that glassmaker hammered it rapidly back into shape. Afraid of the devaluation of costly metals, Tiberius planned the inventor decapitated so that the secret of the Vitrum flexile may die with him. Its’ version told about a couple of hundred years past the Dio Cassius morphed a glassmaker into the sort of magician. The moment that the vessel had been thrown into the floor, this one got broke and that glassmaker fixed it by using only his bare hands.

    During 2012, Corning, a glass manufacturing company introduced its supple “Willow Glass.” It is flexible enough and heat-resistant to be rolled, it has proven particularly useful in making of the solar panels. If this unfortunate Roman glassmaker indeed invented vitrum flexile, it appears he was already thousands of years old.


    The Most Incredible and Mysterious Lost Inventions

    We humans are a species ever focused on advancing our knowledge, of inexorably moving past perceived boundaries to find new ways to break past our confines into fascinating future realms of discovery. This has done much to progress our kind, and the tireless pursuit of our great thinkers and scientists has allowed us to achieve great leaps and bounds throughout the ages. However, as much as we advance there are those discoveries that have been lost to us for whatever reasons that serve to remind us of what could have been. Here we have astounding, sometimes seemingly improbable breakthroughs that smash through our current understanding of our world, but which have slipped into the forgotten nooks and crannies of time.

    Some of the more mysterious and impressive of lost inventions are those from the ancient world, many of which were well ahead of their times and some which are thoroughly steeped in shadowy myth and lore. Perhaps the most well-known of these was a destructive weapon developed in the Byzantine Empire in the 7th century, and popularly known as “Greek Fire.” The material was more or less a volatile concoction that was sprayed from a type of cannon and which could supposedly ignite anything, continuing to burn without sputtering out and to destroy even upon water. This vast ability to annihilate the enemy in Naval battles made Greek Fire one of the most feared weapons of the time, and its manufacture one of the most jealously guarded military secrets of the Byzantine Empire.

    Greek Fire seems to have first mentioned by the historian Theophanes, who described its origins. It was written that the Emperor at the time, Konstantinos IV, had been desperately looking for some sort of secret weapon to use in the face of invaders from the Middle East, and it was then that he was approached by a Syrian refugee and chemist named Kallinikos. The Emperor took him in, and in return Kallinikos supposedly taught him the secrets of making Greek Fire, which was then used to horrific effect and resounding success in a naval battle against Arab forces under the command of Khalif of Syria in 678 AD. The Greek Fire reportedly absolutely obliterated the enemy, who could find no effective way to put the ravenous flames out, saving the city of Constantinople in the process. According to the enemy, the only things that showed any promise at all of remotely stopping the fires were vinegar, sand, or urine, which could not be provided in the amounts needed to stop the onslaught. The secret weapon would then be effectively used for centuries against all who would defy them.

    While this particular origin story may be mythical, at least in parts, it is widely believed that Greek Fire was indeed a real thing, and that it was likely developed and perfected over many years by various chemists working in unison. Not surprisingly, considering it was seen as such a decisively devastating weapon in Naval battles, many other powers wished to gain the secrets to its formula for themselves, but the exact recipe was so intensely guarded that only a very few were said to have even known how to make it. In addition to the actual recipe for Greek Fire, there was a certain set of steps required to make it work, and even when Bulgar nomads managed to capture a sizable batch of the stuff in 814, they were apparently unable to discern how to turn it into the fearsome weapon they knew it to be. Even when a purportedly leaked recipe for Greek Fire was released in the book Book of Fires for the Burning of Enemies, no one who read it could actually make it work, and it seems there were many parts that had to come together just right, including the siphon delivery systems, for the material to be properly unleashed in all of its blazing, ravenous glory.

    In this sense, the secret of Greek Fire and its utilization were kept safe from the world for centuries, and was never once successfully stolen by the enemy. However, this obsessive secrecy had a drawback in that it meant that the few who actually knew the secrets were unwilling to share them, and when they died the secrets died with them. This turns out to be exactly what happened, and the ingredients, handling, and methods needed to create Greek Fire have been thoroughly and forever lost to the sands of time, although there are some guesses and there have been numerous attempts to recreate it. It is thought that it used some sort of resin mixed with crude oil and other chemicals, and that it was likely a liquid, but that is about all we know. Although mankind in its infinite innovation for destruction has created serviceable replacements, such as napalm, the secret of the original Greek Fire remains an incomprehensible mystery.

    Just as destructive and every bit as cloaked in mystery is an invention supposedly developed in the 3rd century BC by the ancient Greek engineer and mathematician Archimedes, of the city-state of Syracuse, then a part of ancient Greece. Among his many accomplishments during his life, such as the calculation of pi, Archimedes was also known to dabble in creating various machines of war for use against the Romans, such as catapults and even a massive metal claw that could be used to pick up and sink ships, and he once boasted, “Give me a lever long enough and a place to stand and I will move the world.”

    Among these colorful and elaborate weapons was something he came up with that has gone on to be rather aptly called “The Archimedes Death Ray.” It supposedly consisted of a series of enormous mirrors that were arranged in such a precise way as to catch and focus sunlight to such a ferocious intensity that it could spontaneously ignite and burn Roman ships off the coast up to 1,000 feet away. According to the ancient historian Galen, the death ray was used to great effect during the Roman siege of Syracuse, destroying many enemy ships with its blazing, unstoppable rays. However, over the centuries all other records of the weapon and any hint of how it was built have been lost.

    In recent times there have been various efforts to try and recreate the “Archimedes Death Ray.” The most famous example was two episodes of the television show Mythbusters, but they couldn’t figure out how to make it work. Then a group at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) managed to set alight a replica Roman ship measuring 10 feet long, but the whole process took a total of 10 minutes, and this plus other factors make this is all a questionable result at best. The model ship was motionless at the time, with no accounting for the motion of the waves that would be expected, and furthermore, the time from ignition to fire was 10 minutes, which seems a bit long to be of any practical value in a high stakes battle in the middle of chaos. There is also the fact that Archimedes’ Death Ray never caught on as a popular or widely used weapon, and was only mentioned a handful of times. As Archimedes biographer Sherman K. Stein writes:

    Had the mirrors done their work, they would have become a standard weapon yet there is no sign that they were added to the armaments of the time.

    Nevertheless, the lost invention has remained the focus of many a discussion, and is speculated and debated upon to this day. Another infamous weapon of war from ancient times is a material known as Damascus steel, which originated in the Middle East and was used to fashion swords and other blades for millennia. Named after the famed city of Syria, weapons made with this mysterious breed of steel were known for the distinctive patterns within the steel itself. Damascus blades were long considered to be legendary, with many abilities and characteristics attributed to them. They were said to hold their edge exceptionally well, were considered to be almost supernaturally sharp, able to cut clean through other lesser swords without losing sharpness, and were also renowned for their incredible durability and toughness, which were said to be far beyond that of a normal blade. Some legends say that they were literally unbreakable, and that they could cleanly slice in half a human hair falling upon them.

    A replica Damascus steel blade

    Due to these purported remarkable properties, it is understandable that Damascus steel weapons were highly prized and sought after, but towards around the 17th century their production dropped off until they apparently went extinct, with the secrets of their production and manufacture lost for the very same reasons that those of Greek Fire were also lost. There were just a few master sword smiths who knew the exact balance of ores and the technique for making them, and this was always a carefully guarded secret that very often went with them to the grave. Indeed, we still have no idea how the steel and its blades were created, and the swords and knives available today which are labelled as “Damascus Steel,” are merely approximations of what they may have been like.

    It is thought that the secret to the amazing qualities of these weapons lies in the unique raw materials that were used, and that these ores may have simply been depleted and used up over time, making it now impossible to fashion one even if one knew how. Many of the unique properties of the steel are also attributed to the manufacturing process and the impurities in the blades that it produced, with elements such as tungsten or vanadium likely present, and there are even theories that the steel was imbued with naturally occurring nanowires and carbon nanotubes, which would account for its legendary toughness and resilience. Whatever the case may be, the secret to the correct combination of materials and forging techniques needed to produce a Damascus steel weapon have been lost to the ages.

    Not every mysterious lost invention is related to destruction and warfare, and indeed another legendary example is a material from the reign of Roman Emperor Tiberius Caesar, that was referred to as Vitrum Flexile, or “flexible glass.” This was supposedly a type of extraordinary glass that would not break or shatter, but rather bend, and which could be hammered back together to repair any cracks or dents. It was said to have been invented by a craftsman by the name of Isadore of Seville, and according to an early account by Petronius, the mysterious craftsman one day presented a bowl made of the material to the Emperor, who had then thrown it to the floor. However, instead of shattering into pieces as would be expected, the miracle material simply bent inward, and could be easily repaired by simply hammering the dent out, resulting in the bowl being as good as new, with no hint at all of having received any damage.

    Roman Emperor Tiberius Caesar

    According to the tale, the inventor told the Emperor that he was the only one who knew the secret of how to make the flexible glass, after which he was beheaded in order to keep the invention under wraps and to prevent undermining the value of gold and silver. The story would later be retold by Pliny the Younger and then Cassius Dio, who speculated that the inventor had perhaps been a powerful alchemist or magician. It is unknown if this was ever a real material or not, but there are currently efforts to develop something very much like it in the modern world, so perhaps this was just an innovation that was well ahead of its time. Neither the mystery of Vitrum Flexile nor its method of manufacture have been explained.

    Yet another invention from Roman times that has been lost to us is that of the so-called “Roman Concrete.” The Romans put to use a peculiar blend of concrete that allowed them to build some of their most astounding architectural creations. Roman concrete was extremely resistant to the effects of seawater, wind, weather, and cracking, and indeed outshines even the most advanced concrete mixtures today. It is precisely the reason why so many iconic Roman structures still stand in relatively good condition even thousands of years later. The thing is, this formula has been lost to the tides of time and no one really knows how they made it, other than that they likely used volcanic ash. Other than this, how they managed to create such structures to withstand the sea and the elements for so long remains unknown, and efforts to reproduce it based on the few remaining written records have proved unsuccessful.

    Another beneficial Roman invention that we have lost is a concoction known as Mithridatium, named after the king Mithridates VI of Pontus, also known as Mithradates VI Eupator Dionysus and Mithridates the Great, who supposedly discovered it. A notorious emperor known for indiscriminate killing, Mithridates racked up quite a rogue’s gallery of enemies during his tenure as ruler, and as such became absolutely obsessed with the idea that he would be poisoned. Indeed his own father had been killed in such a way, and he was convinced that he was at the heart of an assassination conspiracy. To this effect, he supposedly began to work in unison with his court physician, Crateuas, to craft an almighty elixir that would render any poison worthless.

    The two supposedly went about testing and perfecting a wide range range of toxins, venomous, medications, and concoctions, which they tested on prisoners in the hopes of finding a universal antidote to all poisons. He was apparently successful, because it is written by such well-known intellectuals of the day as Pliny the Elder that he managed to develop a daily supplement to take that would purportedly protect him from all forms of poisons, and which was said to be composed of 54 different ingredients mixed and matched in precise quantities.

    The result was that Mithridates was purportedly able to ingest any toxin known to man without suffering any ill effects, and it was apparently so effective that Mithridates would perform public exhibitions in which he would willingly be subjected to all manner of lethal toxins without any ill effect whatsoever. Indeed the antidote was so effective that it apparently thwarted his attempt to kill himself with poison in 63 BC, forcing him to take his own life by sword. He had, for all intents, crated a universal, cure-all antidote for any known poison. The drug, which would be known as Mithridatium, was apparently highly sought after during the Middle Ages and Renaissance, but the secret would die with him. In later years, a supposed handwritten recipe for the concoction was found in a cabinet at his home, but no one was able to make it work, and various efforts to try and recreate it have failed. The secret to this universal cure-all for poison, or even whether it ever really existed at all or was a sham, have been lost to time, although there were skeptics even in ancient times, with Pliny saying of Mithridates:

    The Mithridatic antidote is composed of fifty-four ingredients, no two of them having the same weight, while of some is prescribed one sixtieth part of one denarius. Which of the gods, in the name of Truth, fixed these absurd proportions? No human brain could have been sharp enough. It is plainly a showy parade of the art, and a colossal boast of science.

    Moving on into more modern times, we have still more mysterious supposed inventions that could have had world changing implications. In the 1970s, a man named Thomas Ogle claimed to have developed a new type of car carburetor that supposedly could make gasoline into a pressurized vapor and utilize it on the engine’s firing chambers in an incredibly super efficient manner, allowing vehicles to allegedly run over 100 miles to the gallon. In addition, Ogle claimed that any car could be modified to use the new system easily and for not much additional cost, making the whole thing seem almost too good to be true. Ogle himself showed off a Ford Galaxie that had supposedly been fitted with the new miracle carburetor and was clocked at around 113 miles to the gallon.

    Unfortunately we will never know. Ogle died in 1981 without ever having divulged just how the vapor carburetor worked, and even his death has sparked controversy, with some saying he was intentionally poisoned by someone within the big gasoline companies who stood to lose the most from such an innovative product. Considering that no one has ever been able to replicate the process, it has been speculated that the whole thing could have been a hoax, with Ogle simply showing an illusion utilizing hidden fuel tanks, but other have defended his invention as having been real, and in the end the fact is we simply don’t know. All we know is that it would have been a revolutionary development way ahead of its time.

    Also in the 1970s was the development of a material that was claimed to be the most incredible heat shield humanity has ever devised or even imagined. The material was called Starlite, and was supposedly created by an amateur chemist and producer of hair products named Maurice Ward, who created it in his garage by accident using common and easily accessible ingredients. After many iterations of the material he claimed that it could be simply sprayed onto any object and make it virtually impervious to heat. To demonstrate it Ward would spray it on his hand and run a flame over it to ill effect, coat eggs with it and put them under an assault by blowtorch only to show that the insides were still raw and the shell cool to the touch, and even subject the material to a concentrated laser beam running at around a diamond melting 10,000°C without showing any stress. When subjected to a test simulating a nuclear blast a Starlite coated slab only showed a small scorch mark, and many of these tests were done under scientific conditions or even televised on national TV.

    Hailed as a wonder material, Starlite is mostly considered to have been very real, and Ward was in talks to have it mass produced by many high level companies and even NASA, but could never agree to the terms or reach a deal, all negotiations falling through in the end mostly due to Ward’s own greed and insistence on keeping 51% of any proceeds from his invention. Before he was able to ever find an agreement he was comfortable with, Ward died in 2011 and took his jealously protected secret with him to the grave. Ward had in the past claimed that some of his closest family knew the secret to Starlight’s creation, which was allegedly disarmingly easy, but no one has come forward to conclusively show that this is the case. This potentially groundbreaking invention will probably be forever lost to us, and if you want to read about it more in detail you can check out an article I wrote on it here at MU some time ago.

    In the 1990s there was another supposed invention brought forward relating to computers, when a Dutch man named Jan Sloot claimed that he had discovered a revolutionary new digital coding system that enabled immense amounts of data to be compressed into a very tiny amount of storage space. The kind of compression rates he was talking about were far beyond anything available at the time, and indeed beyond what we have available today, able to supposedly smash down an entire movie into just 8KB of space. He also claimed that he could play up to 16 movies at the same time running on just a 64KB chip and without first copying it to the computer’s hard drive.

    It was all so amazing that Sloot had people definitely interested in investing in the technology, but nothing ever went through because Sloot would end up dead, apparently the day before he was to give up the secret to it all. No one really knew how it all worked except Sloot himself, and additionally there was supposedly a floppy disc holding the compiler that could not be located. It the intervening years the supposed remarkable invention has been picked apart and speculated upon, with some saying that it would be impossible based on current file compression knowledge, and others saying that Sloot had merely found an ingenious way to get around the physical limitations.

    The most controversial of all of these is perhaps a claim in 1989 that a team of scientists had achieved a theoretical process through which nuclear reactions could be obtained at room temperature for the purpose of producing energy, usually called “cold fusion.” In theory it should be impossible, as fusion typically occurs under immense pressure and millions of degrees of heat in places such as the centers of stars. Cold fusion is a concept so alien to what we know that there has never been any workable accepted theory as to how it could be accomplished, but that didn’t stop many from trying, and some claimed success.

    In 1989 there was an experiment carried out by the electrochemist Martin Fleischmann and colleague Stanley Pons, who created an apparatus which they claimed could produce “anomalous heat” through a cold fusion process. They purportedly did this all through electrolysis of heavy water on the surface of a palladium electrode, and at the time it was exciting development because it held the promise of solving the world’s energy crisis, but since it was against everything we know about fusion it was also immediately met with skepticism. Additionally, there was much made of the flaws in the experiment, and no one seemed to be able to replicate the results. Although some teams continue to pursue cold fusion, it is mostly considered by mainstream science to be a dead end, and it is unknown if Fleischmann and Pons managed to actually pull it off or not.

    This is by no means a complete list of all of the amazing discoveries we have made as a species over the ages that have, for one reason or other, been lost to us in time, for better or worse. There are many others, and while many seem to hold almost a mythical quality to them one cannot help but wonder how the world may have been different if they had come to fruition in their respective times. There is doubt that some of these were ever real to begin with, but they paint a picture of a dogged quest along path of discovery and understanding that has hit some bumps in the road. These supposed inventions remain lost to use, ciphers in the mist, which stir the imagination but which have been forever buried within the sands of time.


    New Flexible Glass Will Significantly Reduce The Cost Of Solar Panels

    There is an interesting story about ancient Rome which tells us that flexible glass is a legendary lost invention from the time of the reign of Roman Emperor Tiberius Caesar. Tiberius Caesar ordered the execution of a glassmaker for inventing the ‘Vitrum Flexile’ or flexible glass, which was unbreakable and could be bended by hand. The emperor feared that the new invention would undermine the value of gold and silver and will shatter the whole economy.

    Now after hundreds of years, In 2012 Corning introduced ‘Willow Glass’. As you probably know, Corning is the manufacturer of Gorilla Glass, which forms the front of most premium Smart-phones today. Willow glass is a type of flexible glass.

    Willow Glass is very heat resistant, which is useful in high temperatures measured in hundreds of degrees Celsius. Willow Glass is flexible enough to be rolled up which can significantly speed up production and reduce costs. Willow Glass’s combination of flexibility, transparency, and heat resistance makes it a very good option for the creation of cadmium telluride (CdTe) solar cells.

    The U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has built flexible solar cells out of Corning’s Willow Glass. These new solar cells are strong enough to even replace roofing shingles.

    Conventional solar panels are bulky and breakable, which makes them expensive to transport and install. But with this latest technological development, the flexible glass can be used to make cheap solar cells. These flexible solar cells can even replace conventional brick or slate shingles.

    The cost of installation is one of the most prohibitive factors in adopting solar power. But using flexible solar cells instead of conventional brick or slate shingles would make it much cheaper. With roofing made of solar panels, homes can generate their own electricity.


    The Legacy Lives On

    Judith Rosen remembers her father telling her she would see the Flex-Straw “all over the world,” and he was right. Flex-Straws are distributed internationally, and Rosen collects boxes of them on her travels.

    What Friedman may not have ventured to prophesy was the varied uses his invention would inspire. Pamela Friedman Leeds, his youngest daughter, has been incorporating the Flex-Straw in her artwork for some time. She refers to the invention as “the family icon.” Leeds also collects Flex-Straw related pieces, including a six-foot tall sculpture made from cast straws, a bronze Styrofoam cup with matching Flex-Straw, and a bronze Christmas tree with a Flex-Straw serving as its trunk.

    The straw may be one of those objects that we consider mundane, perhaps only recognizing its importance by its absence--for example, when the person at the drive-through fails to include one with our drink. But the mind behind the flexible straw was anything but mundane.


    Contents

    Erotic electrostimulation

    Another form of sex toys for both men and women are those for erotic electrostimulation. Erotic electrostimulation refers to the act of using electricity for sexual stimulation. Electrostimulation dates back as early as the mid 1700s. By the mid 1970s, medical transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) machines were widely available. The machines work by stimulating nerve endings with electricity, sending signals of stimulation to the brain. Electrostimulation works off this same principle, when the brain received a signal of stimulation from the genitals, pleasure hormones are released.

    Erotic furniture

    Erotic furniture is furniture specially shaped for comfort, penetration levels, and stimulation. Also known as sex furniture, it is any form of furniture that can act as an aid to sexual activity. While almost anything can be used for this purpose, the most common form of furniture employed for sexual activity is the bed, but couches and sofas come a close second. These are not strictly erotic furniture, as their primary use is not erotic.

    Specifically designed furniture for erotic purposes can include

    • Devices for spanking and flagellation such as the Berkley Horse
    • Devices for using gravity to aid in lovemaking without the use of complicated slings
    • Sex gliders
    • Various types of angled foam wedges or specially designed pillows that support various sex positions, e.g., Liberator Shapes or the ergonomically based Lovebumpers

    General penetrative toys

      are hollow metal balls inserted vaginally which can be worn inside the vagina for extended periods of time. The internal rolling is claimed to enhance orgasms.
    • A dildo is a non-vibrating device which is used for sexual stimulation of the vagina or anus. Dildos are generally made of silicone rubber, but can be made of other materials such as body safe metals such as titanium, stainless steel, aluminium, or glass. They are often made to resemble a penis, although some are C-shaped or S-shaped for G-spot or P-spot stimulation.
      • A double penetration dildo is a long, usually flexible dildo with both ends designed for penetration. It allows for mutual penetration between two persons (or for double penetration of a single female, both anally and vaginally).
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      Anal toys

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      Glass sex toys are commonly made from clear medical grade borosilicate glass ("hard glass"). This particular type of safety toughened glass is non-toxic and will withstand extreme temperatures as well as physical shock without compromising its structural integrity.

      The choice of this high-grade material provides safety in use and the option to heat or chill the toys. Borosilicate glass is also non-porous and can be sterilized to help prevent infection with reuse. The highest quality glass toys can even be put in the dishwasher making them easier to keep clean. As well as their practical qualities, a main selling point of glass sex toys is their visual appeal.

      Some glass sex toys vibrate. There are two main ways this can be achieved. Either the toy may have a hole into which a small bullet vibrator can be inserted, or the core of the glass design can be modified to form a standard vibrator. The latter option usually has a plastic cap covering the battery compartment, which will also house any control buttons or switches.

      Vibrators

      Vibrators are electric motor-powered devices intended to stimulate the body by creating a pulsating or buzzing sensation. Vibrators come in a range of shapes and sizes, for internal or external use. Some vibrators intended for internal use are phallic in shape. Small vibrators may have a stretchy loop attachment for use as a finger toy or cock ring. Penetrative vibrators usually measure twelve to eighteen cm (five to seven inches) in length and two to five cm (one to two inches) wide often to mimic the size of the average human penis. [ citation needed ]

        are designed to be inserted into the rectum, which may stimulate the prostate in men. The safest ones have a flared base which remains outside the body, that prevents the toy from becoming irretrievable.
    • Bullet vibrators are small, bullet-shaped vibrators that can be used for direct stimulation or inserted into other sex toys to increase stimulation. Some are sold with stretchy loops for attachment as a finger toy or cock ring. are curved at one end to facilitate stimulation of the female G-spot. are curved at one end to facilitate stimulation of the male P-spot.
    • Luxury vibrators have an increased focus on design and the use of expensive materials that appeal to a more upscale fashion market.
    • The rabbit vibrator, of which there are several variations, is a popular female sex toy popularized by the television series Sex and the City. [3] It comprises an insertable shaft which often has additional functionality, such as rotation and internal beads or a thrusting action. Attached to the shaft is a vibrating clitoral stimulator. For most rabbit vibrators this comes in the form of "bunny ears" which sit each side of the clitoris.
    • Vibrator wands, such as the Hitachi Magic Wand, are large vibrators that generally plug into an electrical outlet (versus operating on battery power) and are often marketed as back massagers. [4] They are able to produce far more powerful vibration than most battery-powered vibrators. [4] Various attachments made of silicone or a rubber material allow the toy to be used penetratively, or give the toy more interesting texture. [4][5] are dual-area vibrators in the form of a clitoral stimulator and vaginal stimulator, designed to stimulate the two erogenous zones simultaneously and independently.
    • Womanizer: clitoral stimulator using air vibrations and suction. [6][7]
    • Nipple toys

        are clamps used to stimulate the nipples by applying varying degrees of pressure.
      • Suction devices are generally either rubber or glass.

      Penile toys

        , also known as "pocket pussies", "male masturbators", or "strokers", [8] are tubes made of soft material to simulate sexual intercourse. The material and often textured inner canal are designed to stimulate the penis and induce orgasm. The male masturbators come in many shapes and styles they can be shaped like vulvas, anuses, mouths, or as non-descriptive holes. Some male masturbators are disposable and some can be washed and used repeatedly. Some are equipped with sex machine options that work similar to milking machines. [9]
      • A cock harness is a more elaborate harness designed to be worn around the penis and scrotum. Its function is similar to that of a cock ring. These devices are often associated with BDSM activities such as cock and ball torture. An Arab strap is one such form of harness, purported to be a device used for maintaining an erection. prolong male erection by holding blood inside the penis. A man may wear a cock ring to combat erectile difficulties, or for the sensation of tightness and engorgement that wearing one provides. Some models include a protruding clitoral stimulator, designed to stimulate the clitoris during sex. Others vibrate, either vibrating the ring itself, or in a popular 'Dolphin' variant by using two removable bullet vibrators to provide stimulation to both the testicles and clitoris. Some cock rings also have vibrators attached which can be worn to stimulate a partner during sexual intercourse, especially in the scrotum or perineum. [10] Yet other cock rings have arms that rub and apply pressure to the perineum of the wearer. [11]
        • A triple crown is a special cock ring that has additional rings for restraining the testicles. In orgasm, the testicles usually retract toward the body before ejaculation. A triple crown changes and intensifies the sensation of orgasm by forcing the testicles to stay away from the body.

        Dildos in one form or another have existed widely in history. Artifacts from the Upper Paleolithic of a type called bâton de commandement have been speculated to have been used for sexual purposes. [14] Few archaeologists consider these items as sex toys, but archaeologist Timothy Taylor put it, "Looking at the size, shape, and—some cases—explicit symbolism of the ice age batons, it seems disingenuous to avoid the most obvious and straightforward interpretation. But it has been avoided." [15] [16]

        The first dildos were made of stone, tar, wood, bone, ivory, limestone, teeth, [17] and other materials that could be shaped as penises and that were firm enough to be used as penetrative sex toys. Scientists believe that a 20-centimeter siltstone phallus from the Upper Palaeolithic period 30,000 years ago, found in Hohle Fels Cave near Ulm, Germany, may have been used as a dildo. [18] Prehistoric double-headed dildos have been found which date anywhere from 13 to 19,000 years ago. Various paintings from ancient Egypt around 3000 BCE feature dildos being used in a variety of ways. In medieval times, a plant called the “cantonese groin” was soaked in hot water to enlarge and harden for women to use as dildos. [17] Dildo-like breadsticks, known as olisbokollikes (sing. olisbokollix), [19] were known in Ancient Greece prior to the 5th century BC. [20] In Italy during the 1400s, dildos were made of leather, wood, or stone. [21] Chinese women in the 15th century used dildos made of lacquered wood with textured surfaces, and were sometimes buried with them. [17] Nashe's early-1590s work The Choise of Valentines mentions a dildo made from glass. [22] Dildos also appeared in 17th and 18th century Japan, in shunga. In these erotic novels, women are shown enthusiastically buying dildos, some made out of water buffalo horns. [17]

        Dildos were not just used for sexual pleasure. Examples from the Eurasia Ice Age (40,000-10,000 BCE) and Roman era are speculated to have been used for defloration rituals. This isn't the only example of dildos being used for ritual ceremonies, as people in 4000 BCE Pakistan used them to worship the god Shiva. [17]

        Many references to dildos exist in the historical and ethnographic literature. Haberlandt, [23] for example, illustrates single and double-ended wooden dildos from late 19th century Zanzibar. With the invention of modern materials, making dildos of different shapes, sizes, colors and textures became more practical. [24]

        Ancient Greece

        Greek dildos were often made out of leather stuffed with wool in order to give it varying degrees of thickness and firmness. They were often lubricated with olive oil, and used for sexual practice and other activities. The Greeks were also one of the first groups to use the term “toy” in reference to a dildo. [17] Dildos may be seen in some examples of ancient Greek vase art. Some pieces show their use in group sex or in solitary female masturbation. [25] One vessel, of about the sixth century BCE, depicts a scene in which a woman bends over to perform oral sex on a man, while another man is about to thrust a dildo into her anus. [26] shop.

        Page DuBois, a classicist and feminist theorist, suggests that dildos were present in Greek art because the ancient Greek male imagination found it difficult to conceive of sex taking place without penetration. Therefore, female masturbation or sex between women required an artificial phallus to be used. [25] Greek dildos were often made out of leather stuffed with wool in order to give it varying degrees of thickness and firmness. They were often lubricated with olive oil, and used for sexual practice and other activities. The Greeks were also one of the first groups to use the term “toy” in reference to a dildo. [17]

        Dildoes are mentioned several times in Aristophanes' comedy of 411 BCE, Lysistrata.

        LYSISTRATA And so, girls, when fucking time comes… not the faintest whiff of it anywhere, right? From the time those Milesians betrayed us, we can’t even find our eight-fingered leather dildos. At least they’d serve as a sort of flesh-replacement for our poor cunts… So, then! Would you like me to find some mechanism by which we could end this war? [27]

        Herodas' short comic play, Mime VI, written in the 3rd Century BCE, is about a woman called Metro, anxious to discover from a friend where she recently acquired a dildo.

        METRO I beg you, don't lie, dear Corrioto: who was the man who stitched for you this bright red dildo? [28]

        She eventually discovers the maker to be a man called Kerdon, who hides his trade by the front of being a cobbler, and leaves to seek him out. Metro and Kerdon are main characters in the next play in the sequence, Mime VII, when she visits his shop.

        Talmud

        The Talmud's Avodah Zarah Tractate [29] records the interpretation which Rav Yosef bar Hiyya gave to the Biblical reference of King Asa of Judah having "(. ) deposed his grandmother Maakah from her position as Queen Mother, because she had made a repulsive image for the worship of Asherah. Asa cut it down and burned it in the Kidron Valley". [30] According to Rav Yosef, Maakah had installed "a kind of male organ" on her Asherah image "in order to fulfill her desire", and was "mating with it every day". Rav Yosef's words are quoted by Rashi in his own interpretation of 2 Chronicles 15:16. Whether or not Rav Yosef was right in attributing this practice to the Biblical Queen, his speaking of it indicates that Jews in 3rd Century Mesopotamia were familiar with such devices.

        Early modern period

        In the early 1590s, the English playwright Thomas Nashe wrote a poem known as The Choise of Valentines, Nashe's Dildo or The Merrie Ballad of Nashe his Dildo. This was not printed at the time, due to its obscenity [31] but it was still widely circulated and made Nashe's name notorious. [22] The poem describes a visit to a brothel by a man called "Tomalin" he is searching for his sweetheart, Francis, who has become a prostitute. The only way he can see her is to hire her. However, she resorts to using a glass dildo as he finds himself unable to perform sexually to her satisfaction. [32]

        Dildos are humorously mentioned in Act IV, scene iv of Shakespeare's The Winter's Tale. This play and Ben Jonson's play The Alchemist (1610) are typically cited as the first use of the word in publication (Nashe's Merrie Ballad was not published until 1899). [31]

        John Wilmot, the seventeenth-century English libertine, published his poem Signor Dildo in 1673. During the Parliamentary session of that year, objections were raised to the proposed marriage of James, Duke of York, brother of the King and heir to the throne, to Mary of Modena, an Italian Catholic princess. An address was presented to King Charles on 3 November, foreseeing the dangerous consequences of marriage to a Catholic, and urging him to put a stop to any planned wedding '. to the unspeakable Joy and Comfort of all Your loyal Subjects." Wilmot's response was Signior Dildo (You ladies all of merry England), a mock address anticipating the 'solid' advantages of a Catholic marriage, namely the wholesale importation of Italian dildos, to the unspeakable joy and comfort of all the ladies of England:

        You ladies all of merry England Who have been to kiss the Duchess's hand, Pray, did you not lately observe in the show A noble Italian called Signor Dildo? . A rabble of pricks who were welcomed before, Now finding the porter denied them the door, Maliciously waited his coming below And inhumanly fell on Signor Dildo .

        This ballad was subsequently added to by other authors, and became so popular that Signor became a term for a dildo. [33] In the epilogue to The Mistaken Husband (1674), by John Dryden, an actress complains:

        To act with young boys is loving without men. What will not poor forsaken women try? When man's not near, the Signior must supply. [33]

        Signor Dildo was set to music by Michael Nyman for the 2004 biopic, The Libertine.

        Many other works of bawdy and satirical English literature of the period deal with the subject. Dildoides: A Burlesque Poem (London, 1706), attributed to Samuel Butler, is a mock lament to a collection of dildos that had been seized and publicly burnt by the authorities. Examples of anonymous works include The Bauble, a tale (London, 1721) and Monsieur Thing's Origin: or Seignor D---o's Adventures in London, (London, 1722). [34] In 1746, Henry Fielding wrote The Female Husband: or the surprising history of Mrs Mary, alias Mr. George Hamilton, in which a woman posing as a man uses a dildo. This was a fictionalized account of the story of Mary Hamilton. [35]

        Dildos are obliquely referred to in Saul Bellow's novel The Adventures of Augie March (1953): ". he had brought me along to a bachelor's stag where two naked acrobatic girls did stunts with false tools". [36] A dildo called Steely Dan III from Yokohama appears in the William S. Burroughs novel The Naked Lunch (1959). [37] [38] The rock band Steely Dan took their name from it.

        No safety regulations exist in the sex toy industry. The sex toys are sold as novelty items so they do not need to adhere to certain regulations such as reporting the chemicals and materials used in a product. Due to this status, manufacturers are not responsible if their toys are used for any other purpose than being a novelty. [39] Regulations such as REACH [40] do exist, and some sex toys may be compliant to this though, despite that there is no obligation for manufacturers on attaining compliance. A 2006 study conducted by the Greenpeace Netherlands office found high level of phthalates in seven out of eight plastic sex toys tested. [41] Phthalates are chemical plasticizers that are added as softeners, to create the malleable and soft effect that many look for in sex toys. [42]

        Sex toys are classified as novelties in the United States because the Food and Drug Administration has extensive testing and financial requirements in order for sex toys to be classified as medical devices. Therefore, sex toy manufacturers more often choose less complex production by labelling them a novelty, where their listed ingredients do not have to be accurate in chemical composition or percentage of ingredients. Due to the novelty classification, sex toys may contain toxins such as phthalates, which have been banned in children's toys by the CPSC. [42] [43]

        Before using a sex toy, owners should take precautions. One should check for tears, rough seams or cracks that could harm the inside of the vagina or anus. Condoms should also be used on porous sex toys and sex toys that are being shared between two or more partners. They should also use appropriate lubricants silicone lube will break down silicone toys, and oil-based lubes will break down latex condoms. [44]

        Cleaning sex toys is also very important for sexual health and sex toy safety. Cleaning them will avoid the potential of bacterial infection, transmission of STIs (if shared), or pregnancy (if sperm is present on the toy). Porous sex toys (ridged, flexible, soft and squishy) are difficult to clean and can hide bacteria that multiply and harm the human body. Non-porous toys are easier to clean, making them less potentially harmful. [42] When cleaning sex toys, always use warm water and unscented anti-bacterial soap. [44]

        • When used in the anus, sex toys can easily get lost as rectal muscles contract and can suck an object upward, potentially obstructing the colon to prevent this serious problem, it is recommended that individuals use sex toys with a flared base or a string. [45]
        • Glass toys: some can be put in the dishwasher, but it is recommended not to expose them to extreme temperatures and to wash them with soap and water.
        • Hard plastic toys: do not boil the toy, and wash with soap and water. toys: put it on the top shelf of the dishwasher, boil for 5–10 minutes, or wash with water and soap. toys: boil or soak them in 1:10 bleach-water solution for ten minutes, put it on the top shelf of the dishwasher, or use soap and water (if there are electrical components to the toy).
        • Cyberskin and vinyl toys: clean with warm water, air dry, and sprinkle it with a small amount of cornstarch (to keep them dry and not sticky). toys: put it in the top rack of the dishwasher or wash with soap and water.
        • Rubber toys: cannot be properly cleaned because bacteria is absorbed into the material, so it is recommended to always use a condom.

        In 2016, the security software company Trend Micro demonstrated that some Internet-connected electronic sex toys are vulnerable to cyberattacks, [46] thus creating the field of onion dildonics. [47] The ethical, legal, and privacy concerns are an area of active research by Sarah Jamie Lewis, amongst others.

        India

        Sex toys are illegal in India. [48] Selling sex toys is a punishable offense under section 292 of Indian penal code, as sex toys are considered an "obscene" product. Besides sex toys, any book, pamphlet, paper, writing, drawing, painting, representation, figure or any other object, is also considered obscene by section 292 if it is lascivious or appeals to the prurient interest. [49] The punishment for the offense is up to two years in prison. [50] [51]

        Japan

        In Japan, many dildos are created to resemble animals or cartoon characters, such as Hello Kitty, rabbits or dolphins, so that they may be sold as toys, thus avoiding obscenity laws. [ citation needed ]

        Malaysia

        In Malaysia, the sale and importation of sex toys is illegal. [52]

        South Africa

        Section 18A of the Sexual Offences Act, 1957, inserted by the Immorality Amendment Act, 1969, prohibited the manufacture or sale of any item "intended to be used to perform an unnatural sexual act". The term "unnatural sexual act" referred to any sex other than vaginal heterosexual sex, and this prohibition was ostensibly aimed at preventing the use of dildos by lesbians. [53] No longer enforced, the section was repealed by the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences and Related Matters) Amendment Act, 2007. [ citation needed ]

        United States

        Sex toys and lubricants have become increasingly available in major commercial outlets in the United States. On-shelf displays tend to be more discreet than the offerings on web sites. These items tend to be displayed in the "sexual health" sections of stores. [54]

        Until recently, many Southern and some Great Plains states banned the sale of sex toys completely, either directly or through laws regulating "obscene devices". [55] In 1999, William H. Pryor, Jr., an assistant attorney general in Alabama commenting on a case involving sex toys and discussing to what end the devices are used, was quoted as saying there is no "fundamental right for a person to buy a device to produce orgasm". A federal appeals court upheld Alabama's law prohibiting the sale of sex toys on Valentine's Day, 2007. [56]

        In February 2008, a federal appeals court overturned a Texas statute banning the sales of sex toys, deeming such a statute as violating the Constitution's 14th Amendment on the right to privacy. [57] The appeals court cited Lawrence v. Texas, where the U.S. Supreme Court in 2003 struck down bans on consensual sex between gay couples, as unconstitutionally aiming at "enforcing a public moral code by restricting private intimate conduct". Similar statutes have been struck down in Kansas and Colorado.

        Marty Klein, author of America's War on Sex and an advocate for the moral value of sex toys, has described the sex toy bans as a form of erotophobia and genophobia, claiming the "extraordinary erosion of personal liberty, coupled with the massive disrespect of and fear of sexuality is no joke" and that the "Supreme Court [of the United States] has declared our orgasms a battlefield, and sex toys another casualty." [58]

        As of 2008, the sex toys industry was valued at US$15 billion worldwide, with a growth rate of 30%. [ when? ] [59] Seventy percent of sex toys are manufactured in China. [59] [60] [61] Sex toys are sold in various types of local and online sex shops, [62] at conventions associated with the adult industry, [63] [64] and at parties. However, some items, such as "hand-held massagers", are sold in mainstream retail outlets such as drugstores. [63]

        • On Millionaire Matchmaker, "Sex Toy Dave" Levine - who earned a fortune selling adult toys and wanted Patti to find him a mate, preferably bisexual, who would accept him as he is - was featured as one of Patti Stanger's clients. [65]
        • On Real Housewives of Atlanta, Kandi Burruss frequently discusses, displays, and gives other cast members gifts from her sex toy line, "Bedroom Kandi", which she also promotes via her online show, Kandi Koated Nights. [66]

        Sex toys have been the subject of scientific research in different disciplines (e.g., medicine, clinical psychology, sexology, queer studies) for decades. [67] However, in comparison to other sexual aids such as pornography they are regarded as relatively under-researched. [68]

        Prevalence and types of sex toy use

        Some questionnaire and interview studies on the prevalence of sex toy use are available. They show that people of all genders and all sexual identities use sex toys during solo sex (masturbation) and - somewhat less frequently - during partner sex. In various countries (e.g., Australia, China, Germany, USA) sex toys are normalized according to empirical studies, i.e. they are already used by large sections of the population, sometimes by the majority of the population. [69] [70] [71] [72]

        The Internet has made an important contribution to the popularization of sex toys, since information searches about and the purchase of sex toys can now be carried out discreetly online. [73] [74] [75]

        Studies demonstrate that sex toy uses are very diverse. For example, many women do not insert vibrators, but use them externally for direct clitoral stimulation, either during masturbation or during intercourse. [76] Homosexual identified men, on the other hand, report much more frequently that they use vibrators for anal insertion. [72]

        Negative and positive effects of sex toy use

        The meanings and implications of sex toys are controversially discussed in academia. Some authors criticize sex toys for pushing the commercialization of sex, others endorse them for fostering sexual empowerment. [77]

        Empirical research has demonstrated negative effects of sex toy use such as sexually transmitted infections (when sex toys are shared without proper cleaning or without barrier methods such as condoms), injuries (e.g., from anal insertion of toys unsuitable for anal use), or allergies. [78] Some women also report that they are urged by their partners to use sex toys even though they do not want to. The literature also discusses whether sex toys contribute to performance pressure. [79]

        Most empirical studies show that people of all genders and sexual identities experience the use of sex toys predominantly positively. In questionnaires and interviews, they report an increase in sexual arousal and satisfaction, the facilitation of orgasms (especially for women), the exploration of new preferences, a playful approach to sex and the fun of something new during sex. [76] [80] There are decidedly feminist or women-oriented sex toy stores and sex toy party organizations that link the sale of sex toys with sexual education and aim to support women's sexual empowerment. [81] [82] [83] Further positive effects are reported from clinical settings: Sex toys are used therapeutically, for example, in the context of therapy for orgasm disorders. [84] They can also enable people with disabilities to have more sexual self-determination. [85]


        A Short History of Pyrex: The 100-Year-Old American Classic Glassware

        If you’ve ever measured out milk for pancakes, melted butter in the microwave, scooped out a slice of lasagna at a potluck buffet, or even just dug into a bowl of popcorn while speeding through the entire season of “The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt,” you’ve likely had your hands on a piece of Pyrex in your lifetime. The sturdy, sometimes-colorful glass kitchenware has been around for an entire century!

        That’s amazing enough, but did you know it’s always been manufactured right here in the United States? Here’s the lowdown on how Pyrex was born in Corning, NY, and is still made today in Charleroi, PA.

        In 1908, Corning Glass Works started making Nonex, a thermally resistant “non-expansion glass,” for railroad signal lanterns and other industrial applications. This clear glass moved into the kitchen through the efforts of Corning employee Jesse Littleton. As the origin story goes, he brought a sawed-off battery jar home to his wife Bessie, and she used the shallow mold to bake a cake.

        Capitalizing on the fact that the domestic sphere could benefit from the glass’s durability as much as the industrial world, Corning had a hit on its hands. By 1915, it was selling Pyrex pie plates, casserole dishes, and bakeware to the housewives of America. And despite the fact that many people hang onto their Pyrex pieces for a lifetime, it’s still selling and making its way into homes.

        The unique properties of the glass made it unlike anything else on the market — it was able to withstand temperature changes, didn’t discolor, didn’t react with ingredients to change the taste of food (like cast iron), didn’t retain food smells after washing (like ceramics and earthenware), and because the original Pyrex pieces were see-through, bakers could watch the sides of their cakes, pies, and casseroles turn golden-brown as they cooked.

        In 1936, Corning bought a glass factory in Charleroi, PA, just outside of Pittsburgh, which had the capability to produce colorful opal glass — a tempered opaque glass with the same heat-resistant properties as the clear glass coming out of Upstate New York. Again, although this opalware was originally used on an industrial scale (to outfit military mess halls during World War II), the technology trickled into the home kitchen with the release of the iconic primary-colored Pyrex nesting bowls in 1945.


        Benjamin Franklin's Glass Armonica

        In the mid-1700s, Benjamin Franklin served as a delegate for colonial America and spent a great deal of time traveling to London and Paris. During this period, it was quite popular and entertaining for amateur musicians to perform on sets of "singing" or musical glasses. Franklin attended one of these concerts and was intrigued by the beauty of the sound. Almost immediately, he set to work applying the principles of wet fingers on glass to his own musical creation.

        Ben Franklin completed his glass armonica in 1761. (Its name is derived from the Italian word for harmony.) He didn't simply refine the idea of musical glasses, which were played much like children at the dinner table play them today, with notes being determined by the amount of water in the glass. Rather, Franklin made chords and lively melodies possible on his new instrumental invention.

        Working with a glassblower in London, Franklin made a few dozen glass bowls, tuned to notes by their varying size and fitted one inside the next with cork. Each bowl was made with the correct size and thickness to give the desired pitch without being filled with any water. Franklin also painted them so that each bowl was color-coded to a different note. A hole was put through the center of the glass bowls, and an iron rod ran through the holes. The rod was attached to a wheel, which was turned by a foot pedal. Moistened fingers touched to the edge of the spinning glasses produced the musical sounds.

        Ben Franklin's Glass Armonica

        Benjamin Franklin's Glass Armonica.

        The bowls are fitted with cork through the bottom, attaching them to the iron rod.

        Ben Franklin's Glass Armonica

        The bowls fit inside one another without touching.

        Another picture showing that the bowls do not touch.

        Ben Franklin's Glass Armonica

        The glass armonica was one of the most celebrated instruments of the 18th century. Franklin began to take his beloved armonica with him when he traveled and played popular Scottish tunes or original compositions for his audiences. Later, composers such as Beethoven, Mozart, and Donizetti would write music for the armonica. Because of its almost immediate popularity, the glass armonica seemed destined for permanence. But by the 1820s, it was nearly a forgotten instrument.

        Over the years, some disturbing events began to be associated with the glass armonica. Some armonica players became ill and had to stop playing the instrument. They complained of muscle spasms, nervousness, cramps, and dizziness. A few listeners were also subject to ill effects after an incident in Germany where a child died during a performance, the armonica was actually banned in a few towns. Some people thought that the high-pitched, ethereal tones invoked the spirits of the dead, had magical powers, or drove listeners mad. Others thought that lead from the crystal bowls or paint was absorbed into the musicians' fingers when they touched the glass, causing sickness. No explanation or proof was ever really given to any of these claims. Franklin himself ignored all of the controversy and continued to play the instrument until the end of his life with none of the symptoms mentioned. But the armonica's popularity never really returned to what it had been when it was first introduced.

        At the time of his death in 1790, when more than 5,000 of them had been built, Ben Franklin had collected no money from his glass armonica. He refused to patent any of his inventions, saying:

        Ben certainly gave freely and generously, constantly investing time and energy to make his ideas a useful or entertaining reality. Some said the glass armonica was magical, but perhaps the man responsible for it was. Franklin made it possible to create beautiful sounds with the touch of a finger, sounds that his wife Deborah once called, "the music of the angels."

        The glass armonica pictured here was constructed in London by Charles James in 1761, made from Ben Franklin's own instructions. The instrument has a mahogany case and stand, and the musical glass bowls are supported on corks along an iron rod.

        Note: The objects pictured above are part of The Franklin Institute's protected collection of objects. The images are © The Franklin Institute. All rights are reserved.


        4. Apollo/Gemini Space Program Technology

        Not all lost technology dates back to antiquity—sometimes it’s just become so obsolete that it’s no longer compatible. The Apollo and Gemini space programs of the 50s, 60s, and 70s were responsible for NASA’s biggest successes, including some of the first manned space flights and the first trip to the moon. Gemini, which ran from 1965-66, was responsible for the much of the early research and development into the mechanics of human space flight. Apollo, which followed shortly thereafter, was launched with the goal of landing a crew on the surface of the moon, which it succeeded in doing in July of 1969.

        How was it Lost?

        The Apollo and Gemini programs aren’t truly lost. There are still one or two Saturn V rockets lying around, and there are plenty of parts from the spacecraft capsules still available. But just because modern scientists have the parts doesn’t mean they have the knowledge to understand how or why they worked the way they did. In fact, very few schematics or records from the original programs are still around. This lack of record keeping is a byproduct of the frenetic pace at which the American space program progressed. Because NASA was in a space race with the USSR, the planning, design, and building process of the Apollo and Gemini programs was always rushed. Not only that, but in most cases private contractors were brought in to work on every individual part of the spacecraft. Once the programs ended, these engineers—along with all their records—moved on. None of this would be a problem, but now that NASA is planning a return trip to the moon, a lot of the information about how the engineers of the 1960s made the voyages work is invaluable. Amazingly, the records remain so disorganized and incomplete that NASA has resorted to reverse engineering existing spacecraft parts that they have lying around in junkyards as a way of understanding just how the Gemini and Apollo programs managed to work so well.


        2. Construction of the pyramids in Giza

        The pyramids of Giza have fascinated people for ages. The Great Pyramid built in 2550 BC is thought to be the largest structure created by mankind. Scientists have revealed that it took around 20 years to build the Great Pyramid. Despite all the research done, scientists are still unclear how the pyramids were built. Some believe that the pyramids were made by a much more advanced ancient civilization 4500 years ago.

        The pyramid is made using 2.5 million rocks, each weighing 2.5 to 15 tons. With the lack of resources, it would have been impossible to lift them using just wood ramps so it was probably done manually.

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        Watch the video: The Caretaker - Their Story Is Lost (January 2022).