Acetylene is a colorless, combustible gas with a distinctive odor. When acetylene is liquefied, compressed, heated, or mixed with air, it becomes highly explosive.
An antibacterial soap is a cleansing product designed to kill germs on the hands or body. These soaps are made in either liquid or bar form by blending detergent additives with ingredients, which have antimicrobial properties.
Antibiotics are chemical substances that can inhibit the growth of, and even destroy, harmful microorganisms. They are derived from special microorganisms or other living systems, and are produced on an industrial scale using a fermentation process.
An armored truck is a vehicle designed to securely transport currency and other valuables.
Artificial snow is small particles of ice that are used to increase the amount of snow available for winter sports such as skiing or snow boarding. It is produced by a machine that uses a high-pressure pump to spray a mist of water into the cold air.
Asbestos is a general name that applies to several types of fibrous silicate minerals. Historically, asbestos is best known for its resistance to flame and its ability to be woven into cloth.
Baby formula is a synthetic version of mothers' milk and belongs to a class of materials known as dairy substitutes. Dairy substitutes have been used since the early nineteenth century for products like oleomargarine and filled cheese.
Babies have needed to be carried for as long as parents have needed to go places, and different cultures have devised ingenious methods to ease the burden of bearing the weight of a small child on long, or even short, walks. Many Native Americans used a cradleboard, a highly decorated board covered in cloth in which the baby could be secured, typically by laces running across the cloth.
The bagel is a dense ring of bread, often rather bland, raised with yeast and containing almost no fat. In fact, the average bagel is about 4 oz (113.4 g) and 200 calories and contains no cholesterol (unless it is an egg bagel) and no fat (unless it is a specialty bagel such as cheese).
A baseball cap is a soft hat that consists of a soft fabric crown sewn of several sections of fabric and a visor that protects the eyes from the sun. Some special order caps are made to fit the wearer in specific sizes, but most of the mass-produced models have a plastic extender in the center back that can be make bigger or smaller according to the wearer's needs.
The basket is one of humankind's oldest art forms, and it is certainly an ethnic and cultural icon filled with myth and motif, religion and symbolism, and decoration as well as usefulness. Basketry, in fact, encompasses a wide range of objects from nearly rigid, box-like carriers to mesh sacks.
Bath towels are woven pieces of fabric either cotton or cotton-polyester that are used to absorb moisture on the body after bathing. Bath towels are often sold in a set with face towels and wash cloths and are always the largest of the three towels.
Beef jerky is a type of snack food that is made by marinating beef in a curing solution and drying it. Meat treated in this way has a long shelf life and a unique flavor.
Oral contraceptives, or birth control pills, have been used by more than 60 million women worldwide, and are considered by many to be the most socially significant medical advance of the twentieth century. The birth control pill is a tablet taken daily by a woman to prevent pregnancy.
Sixty-five million people fling heavy balls down bowling lanes in the United States each year at speeds up to 20 miles an hour. Other than the finger holes and eye-catching colors, the balls look simple—deceptively so.
The first recorded reference to a game in which a ball is thrown at pins dates from 300 A.D. The reference comes from Germany where the game was part of a religious ceremony practiced by monks.
Braille is a tactile writing system used by the blind that was invented by Louis Braille in France in 1824. It gradually spread beyond France, and it is now in widespread use across the globe.
A carbon fiber is a long, thin strand of material about 0.0002-0.0004 in (0.005-0.010 mm) in diameter and composed mostly of carbon atoms. The carbon atoms are bonded together in microscopic crystals that are more or less aligned parallel to the long axis of the fiber.
A carbon monoxide detector is an electronic device that senses the presence of carbon monoxide (CO) in a building and sounds an alarm to warn the occupants to escape. Carbon monoxide is an odorless, poisonous gas, which can be generated by gas furnaces and water heaters, ranges, space heaters, or wood stoves if they are malfunctioning or not vented properly.
The precursors to the carousel may be as much as 1,500 years old when baskets lashed to a center pole were used to spin riders around in a circle in ancient Byzantium. During the twelfth century in Turkey and Arabia, men and their horses played a game in which delicate balls filled with perfumed water were tossed between riders.
A cast iron stove is a device, built from a material consisting of iron mixed with carbon, in which a solid fuel such as wood or coal is burned to produce heat for warmth or cooking. The stove usually consists of a grate, which holds the fuel, a hollow interior in which the fuel burns, flues through which hot air flows, and baffles to slow down the flow of hot air, allowing the stove to produce more heat.
A change machine is a device used to exchange one form of money for another, typically paper currency for coins. Sensors in the machine detect the type of bill that is fed into it and relay this information to a micro-processor.
Charcoal is a desirable fuel because it produces a hot, long-lasting, virtually smokeless fire. Combined with other materials and formed into uniform chunks called briquettes, it is popularly used for outdoor cooking in the United States.
Children's clothes are a relatively recent invention. From the rudimentary beginnings of clothing all the way to the nineteenth century, children wore miniature versions of adult costumes.
Chopsticks are a pair of sticks, usually wooden, used for eating Asian food. They originated in China sometime during the Shang dynasty (1766-1122 B.C.).
Cider is a natural, liquid beverage that is obtained from the pressing of a finely ground fruit such as apples. Under the proper conditions, it undergoes a natural fermentation process, which yields an alcoholic juice.
Clothing patterns are used to sew stylish garments that fit well. Individual pattern pieces are used to cut fabric pieces, which are then assembled and sewn to create a wearable garment.
Coffins, or funeral caskets, are containers in which the dead are buried. Burial practices differ markedly across cultures and through history, but many peoples have used wooden, stone, or metal boxes for burial.
A compass is a device used to determine direction on the surface of the earth. The most familiar type of compass is the magnetic compass, which relies on the fact that a magnetic object tends to align itself with Earth's magnetic field.
Nearly 590,000 roadway bridges span waterways, dryland depressions, other roads, and railroads throughout the United States. The most dramatic bridges use complex systems like arches, cables, or triangle-filled trusses to carry the roadway between majestic columns or towers.
Copper is one of the basic chemical elements. In its nearly pure state, copper is a reddish-orange metal known for its high thermal and electrical conductivity.
Corn syrup is one of several natural sweeteners derived from corn starch. It is used in a wide variety of food products including cookies, crackers, catsups, cereals, flavored yogurts, ice cream, preserved meats, canned fruits and vegetables, soups, beers, and many others.
Correction fluid is a liquid product designed to cover mistakes made while typing, hand writing, or photocopying markings on paper. Typically, it is applied to paper using a brush.
Cotton candy is a light and fluffy sugar confectionery which resembles cotton wool. It is made by melting a sugar composition and spinning it into fine strands.
A cotton swab is a short spindle with one or both ends coated with an absorbent cotton padding. Such swabs have long been used for various cosmetic and personal hygiene tasks, particularly for cleaning the ear.
A credit card allows consumers to purchase products or services without cash and to pay for them at a later date. To qualify for this type of credit, the consumer must open an account with a bank or company, which sponsors a card.
Bubble wrap is the trademarked name for a packing material consisting of two plastic sheets laminated together in a way that traps air bubbles in small, uniform pockets. This plastic sheet assembly is used as a flexible cushion to protect fragile objects during storage or shipping.
A dental crown is a cap-like restoration used to cover a damaged tooth. Crowns can give support to misshapen or badly broken teeth and permanently replace missing teeth to complete a smile or improve a bite pattern.
Dice are implements used for generating random numbers in a variety of social and gambling games. Known since antiquity, dice have been called the oldest gaming instruments.
A straw is a prepared tube used to suck a beverage out of a container. Historians theorize the first straws were cut from dried wheat shafts and they were named accordingly.
A drum is a musical instrument which produces sound by the vibration of a stretched membrane. The membrane, which is known as the head, covers one or both ends of a hollow body known as the shell.
The origin of the dulcimer is as elusive as its haunting sound. Two types of instrument stake claim to the name—both have different shapes, different methods of being played, and diverse origins.
Digital video disk or digital versatile disk (DVD) is a type of optical data storage medium capable of holding up to 17 giga-bytes (GB) of information. First introduced during the mid-1990s, they were developed as an improved form of compact disk (CD) technology.
The term fire hose refers to several different types of hose specifically designed for use in fighting fires. The most common one consists of one or more outer layers of woven fabric with an inner layer of rubber.
A fire hydrant is an above-ground connection that provides access to a water supply for the purpose of fighting fires. The water supply may be pressurized, as in the case of hydrants connected to water mains buried in the street, or unpressurized, as in the case of hydrants connected to nearby ponds or cisterns.
A flea collar is a device used to protect dogs and cats from fleas and ticks. The collar is a plastic strip made by mixing an insecticide with plastic resins and molding the mixture into a thin strip.
The fruitcake bears the brunt of many holiday jokes in forums as varied as the Sunday funny pages and boxes of greeting cards. One entrepreneur manufactures fruitcakes—and sells them for use as doorstops.
Furniture polishes are pastes, creams, or lotions used to clean, protect, and shine wooden furniture. These products were originally made from natural waxes, which were hard to apply and tended to leave a heavy buildup over time.
A gasoline pump is used to dispense gasoline into motor vehicles. The gasoline pump evolved from a simple mechanism into a more elaborate, specialized one as automobiles grew popular.
Globes fall into two broad categories: terrestrial and celestial. Terrestrial globes are spherical maps of the world, and celestial globes use the earth as an imaginary center of the universe to map the stars in spherical form.
A golf club is used to strike the ball in the game of golf. It has a long shaft with a grip on one end and a weighted head on the other end.
Hair removers, or depilatories, are products designed to chemically or physically remove undesirable hair from areas on the body. Hair removers are made by mixing together the appropriate raw materials in large stainless steel tanks and then filling them into individual packages.
A hammer is a handheld tool used to strike another object. It consists of a handle to which is attached a heavy head, usually made of metal, with one or more striking surfaces.
Helium is one of the basic chemical elements. In its natural state, helium is a colorless gas known for its low density and low chemical reactivity.
The origin of the game of hockey is a hazy and contentious issue. Various forms of field hockey were played in Scotland, Ireland, and France as early as the sixteenth century.
A home pregnancy test is a self-diagnostic tool that allows women to quickly and easily determine if they are pregnant. These tests measure Human chorionic gonadotrophin (hCG), a hormone that is secreted in urine during pregnancy.
Hot dogs are a processed meat product made by mixing chopped meat with various curing ingredients, flavorants, and colorants. The meat is then stuffed in casings, cooked, removed from the casing, and put in the final package.
During the last few decades, lottery tickets have become an increasingly popular form of legal gambling in the United States. One popular game is the instant win, or scratch off lottery which features tickets that have the winning (or losing) numbers concealed on the game card itself.
Since the invention of the insulated bottle, there has never been a question of how to keep hot liquids hot and cold liquids cold. The bigger question has been how does it do that?
A jigsaw puzzle is a picture, which is adhered to a thin and stiff background, like wood or cardboard, and then cut into multiple pieces. The pieces are assembled by the user to reform the original picture.
A kazoo is a type of instrument known as a mirliton, which uses a resonating membrane to amplify sound. It belongs in the percussion family of instruments and can be made in a number of ways.
A kite is an unpowered, heavier-than-air flying device held to the earth by a line. The kite flies because wind resistance causes the air pressure under the kite to be greater than the air pressure above the kite, making the kite rise.
Krypton is chemical element number 36 on the periodic table of the elements. It belongs to the group of elements known as the noble gases.
The word lace is derived from the Latin word lacques, meaning loop or snare. The term lace extends to any openwork fabric that is created by looping, twisting, or knotting of threads either by hand or machine.
A lava lamp is a decorative tube-shaped light fixture containing a colored, oily fluid that flows up and down throughout the lamp chamber in a manner reminiscent of molten lava. As the fluid rises and sinks in the lamp chamber it changes shape and breaks into globules of various sizes, giving a psychedelic effect of constantly shifting patterns.
Ordinary glass has been made for thousands of years and was a product of most ancient cultures. The ancients also began using crystal in its native form of rock crystal for beads, figurines, and dishes.
Licorice is a glossy, gelled candy with a semi-firm consistency that is flavored with licorice root extract. Typically, it is a moderately sweet candy, and is available in a variety of flavors such as black licorice, strawberry, cherry and chocolate.
Linen yarn is spun from the long fibers found just behind the bark in the multi-layer stem of the flax plant (Linum usitatissimum). In order to retrieve the fibers from the plant, the woody stem and the inner pith (called pectin), which holds the fibers together in a clump, must be rotted away.
Mercury is one of the basic chemical elements. It is a heavy, silvery metal that is liquid at normal temperatures.
Milk is a nutritive beverage obtained from various animals and consumed by humans. Most milk is obtained from dairy cows, although milk from goats, water buffalo, and reindeer is also used in various parts of the world.
Milk cartons are water tight paper containers used for packaging milk for retail distribution. One of the most common supermarket items, and found in nearly every home, the milk carton is nonetheless a precision product, manufactured according to exacting standards.
"Dear Dad: One thing I want this Christmas more than anything is a Lionel Electric Train.… You ought to see the way they run! Like a million dollars.
The motorcycle is "a form of entertainment that can appeal only, one would think, to the most enthusiastic of mechanical eccentrics," Engineering magazine stated in 1901.
Orange juice is defined in the United States Code of Federal Regulations as the "unfermented juice obtained from mature oranges of the species Citrus sinensis or of the citrus hybrid commonly called Ambersweet." True fresh squeezed juice is difficult to market commercially because it requires special processing to preserve it. Orange juice is commonly marketed in three forms: as a frozen concentrate, which is diluted with water after purchase; as a reconstituted liquid, which has been concentrated and then diluted prior to sale; or as a single strength, unconcentrated beverage called NFC or Not From Concentrate.
Oxygen is one of the basic chemical elements. In its most common form, oxygen is a colorless gas found in air.
A parade float is an elaborately decorated three-dimensional figure or scene, mounted on a wheeled chassis that participates in a procession as part of a specific celebration. Most parade floats are self-propelled, although they may also be towed by another vehicle or pulled by animals.
A photograph is an image made by a photo-chemical reaction which records the impression of light on a surface coated with silver atoms. The reaction is possible due to the light-sensitive properties of silver halide crystals.
Pickles are cucumbers preserved in a solution of vinegar, salt, and other flavorings. They are typically fermented with naturally-occurring bacteria prior to vinegar preservation.
Playing cards are flat, rectangular pieces of layered pasteboard typically used for playing a variety of games of skill or chance. They are thought to have developed during the twelfth century from divination implements or as a derivative of chess.
Plywood is made of three or more thin layers of wood bonded together with an adhesive. Each layer of wood, or ply, is usually oriented with its grain running at right angles to the adjacent layer in order to reduce the shrinkage and improve the strength of the finished piece.
Polyester fleece is a soft, fuzzy fabric used for sweaters, sweat shirts, jackets, mittens, hats, blankets, and in any other applications where a warm, wool-like material is needed. It is a two-sided pile material, meaning that both the front and back surface of the fabric sprouts a layer of cut fibers, similar to corduroy or velvet.
Pottery is clay that is modeled, dried, and fired, usually with a glaze or finish, into a vessel or decorative object. Clay is a natural product dug from the earth, which has decomposed from rock within the earth's crust for millions of years.
Pretzels are a snack food, which have unique shapes and a hard, shiny outer surface. They are mass produced using primarily automated machinery.
Raisins are made primarily by sun drying several different types of grapes. They are small and sweetly flavored with a wrinkled texture.
Rice cakes have literally exploded in popularity as a low calorie, low fat snack. Perhaps this is no coincidence—their production is based on the explosive characteristic of rice (and similar grains like popcorn) when heat and pressure are applied.
The rubber stamp has two faces, one serious and one full of fun. Practical use has been made of the rubber stamp for many years to apply official information to a range of products.
A school bus is a motor vehicle, which carries students to and from educational institutions. A vehicle is usually not considered to be a bus unless it can carry at least 10 passengers.
Lac is the name given to the resinous secretion of the tiny lac insect (Laccifer lacca) which is parasitic on certain trees in Asia, particularly India and Thailand. This insect secretion is cultivated and refined because of the commercial value of the finished product known as shellac.
Spandex is a synthetic polymer. Chemically, it is made up of a long-chain polyglycol combined with a short diisocyanate, and contains at least 85% polyurethane.
Diamonds, rubies, sapphires, and emeralds are known as precious gems. Next to the diamond, the ruby is the hardest gemstone; it is also resistant to acids and other harmful substances.
A temporary tattoo is a decorative image that can be applied to the skin for short periods of time. Most temporary tattoos are novelty items made with a special type of decal.
Tin is one of the basic chemical elements. When refined, it is a silvery-white metal known for its resistance to corrosion and its ability to coat other metals.
A topographic map is a two-dimensional representation of a three-dimensional land surface. Topographic maps are differentiated from other maps in that they show both the horizontal and vertical positions of the terrain.
A toy wagon is a four-wheeled toy consisting of a main body section and a steering handle. It is produced by a semi-continuous method, which involves making, painting, and assembling the various parts.
Vinyl floorcovering is defined as either resilient vinyl sheet floorcovering or resilient vinyl tile floorcovering. Vinyl sheet floor-covering is generally available in either 6 ft (1.83 m) or 12 ft (3.66 m) widths and vinyl tiles are generally 12 x 12 in (30.48 x 30.48 cm).
Water is a chemical compound needed by most plants and animals on Earth in order to sustain life. Pure water is a tasteless, odorless, transparent liquid.
Underwater, or deep sea diving is a popular recreational sport, and is also necessary for underwater rescue, salvage, and repair operations. Such activities often require diving to great depths in very cold water.
A whistle is a simple device that produces sound when air is forced through an opening. Their loud, attention-getting blast makes whistles essential for police officers and sports referees.
Wooden clogs are heavy work shoes that were typically worn by French and Dutch peasants up through the beginning of the twentieth century. Known in French as sabots, and in Dutch as klompen, these sturdy shoes protected the feet of agricultural workers from mud and wet and from injury by the sharp tools used in the field.
Yogurt is a dairy product, which is made by blending fermented milk with various ingredients that provide flavor and color. Although accidentally invented thousands of years ago, yogurt has only recently gained popularity in the United States.