Accidental Scientific Discovery and Invention - Vulcanized Rubber

About the accidental scientific discovery of vulcanized rubber, history and information.


Discovery: Vulcanized rubber

Discoverer: Charles Goodyear, U.S.

Year: 1839

How Discovered: Rubber as we know it today was discovered as a result of a lucky accident that brought a mixture of India rubber and sulfur into contact with a hot stove. Rubber at that time was useless for practical purposes; when hot it was too sticky, when cold it was too stiff and brittle. Charles Goodyear had been trying for seven years to make a "useful" rubber. One day he brushed off his hands a powder consisting of the useless rubber and some sulfur. The powder fell onto a hot stove. The rubber naturally melted; it then reacted with the sulfur to form the vulcanized rubber we use today. Goodyear's daughter recorded the event. "As I was passing in and out of the room, I casually observed a little piece of gum which he was holding near the fire, and I also noticed that he was unusually animated by some discovery which he had made. He nailed the piece of gum outside the kitchen door in the intense cold. In the morning he brought it in, holding it up exultantly. He had found it perfectly flexible, as it was when he put it out."

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