8. Sunlamps Were Originally For Dying World War I Orphans
Following the decimation of the German economy in World War I, the German public was undernourished. The limited food available mostly went to adults and returning veterans. As a result, children were the most affected by the famine.
In unprecedented numbers, children developed rickets due to a lack of vitamin D, calcium, and phosphate. At the time, nobody knew what caused rickets. Dr. Kurt Huldschinsky developed a thesis. He noticed that all the patients were pale, so he made a lamp that emitted ultraviolet light to see if the children got any better. It worked.
The ultraviolet light cured the disease, and he started marketing the sunlamp. This design would serve as the prototype for the recreational tanning bed, thus giving a generation of celebrities and politicians that radioactive glow and inspiring countless urban legends.
7. The First Bicycle Came After A Horse Apocalypse
In 1816, Mount Tambora erupted in Indonesia. It immediately killed 4,600 people. So in the first 15 minutes, it was already a terrible disaster. The dust storm it unleashed killed another 10,000. By the end, the volcano caused enough famine and disease to kill 90,000 people.
For humans, it was a horrific event. For horses, it was an unprecedented disaster. The soot traveled to Europe that summer, blocking the Sun for months. Without sunshine, oat crops across the continent died. Unable to eat their staple crop, horses began to die by the thousands.
Those horses that stuck around to eat the remaining crops were too much of a burden for the poor farmers, so the horses were shot in their heads. As horses were the main form of transportation, people had to look around for a new way to travel that didn’t require food.
One such inventor, Karl Drais von Sauerbronn, created the dandy horse.Named after the animal that had been just been murdered or starved to death by the truckload, the dandy horse was the first personal propelled bicycle.