An action figure is a doll-like toy designed to resemble characters from movies or literature. The figures can be articulated to hold a variety of poses and may come equipped with accessories, such as clothing, tools, weapons, and vehicles.
An air freshener is a product designed to mask or remove unpleasant room odors. These products typically deliver fragrance and other odor counteractants into the air.
An angioplasty balloon is a medical device that is inserted into a clogged artery and inflated to clear blockage and allow blood to flow. The full medical name for the angioplasty procedure is percutaneous transluminal coronary angioplasty.
A natural heart has two pumps, each with two chambers. The right atrium pumps oxygen-depleted blood from the body into the right ventricle, which pumps it to the lungs.
A heart valve acts as a check valve, opening and closing to control blood flow. This cycle occurs about 40 million times per year or two billion in an average lifetime.
Family members have carried babies in a variety of carriers since the beginning of human civilization. Baby carriers keep the baby close and provide the infant with comfort and security while allowing the carrier some freedom to work and care for other members of the family.
Baby wipes are disposable cloths used to cleanse the sensitive skin of infants. These cloths are made from non-woven fabrics similar to those used in dryer sheets and are saturated with a solution of gentle cleansing ingredients.
The backhoe is one of the most commonly seen pieces of construction equipment because of its adaptability. Its cousin, the front-end loader, is also a smaller piece of equipment that has a broad bucket like the one on the front of the backhoe for hauling soil, debris, and materials, and lifting them up into trucks.
The bagpipe is a wind instrument with a number of pipes and a bag. The melody pipe, or chanter, has finger holes that are played to produce the tune.
Baking powder is a solid mixture that is used as a chemical leavening agent in baked goods. It can be composed of a number of materials, but usually contains baking soda (sodium bicarbonate, NaHCO3), cream of tartar (potassium bitartrate, C4H5KO6), and cornstarch.
Basketball can make a true claim to being the only major sport that is an American invention. From high school to the professional level, basketball attracts a large following for live games as well as television coverage of events like the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) annual tournament and the National Basketball Association (NBA) and Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA) playoffs.
A boomerang is an aerodynamically shaped object designed to fly efficiently through the air when thrown by hand. The term usually refers to an object made to follow a circular flight path that returns it to the thrower.
Fist fighting has existed as a form of entertainment since the early days of human civilization. Some form of the sport appeared as long as 6,000 years ago in present-day Ethiopia.
Brass is a metal composed primarily of copper and zinc. Copper is the main component, and brass is usually classified as a copper alloy.
Aromatic herbs have been used throughout history in a number of ways; fragrant soaps, pomanders, bath-water fresheners, potpourri, sachets, incense, scented candles, and natural herbs to sweeten sour breath are common in most cultures and popular today. Aromatic herbs have the advantage of driving away insects, and the mint family has an especially excellent reputation for keeping pests away from people and other plants.
Brooms have been used for centuries to sweep up, in, and around the home and workplace. They may be made from a variety of materials, both man-made and natural.
A canal is a man-made waterway. Canals are built for a variety of uses including irrigation, land drainage, urban water supply, hydroelectric power generation, and transportation of cargo and people.
Candy corn are the small pieces of triangular candy made primarily from corn syrup, honey and sugar (it is usually fat-free) and is traditionally colored in a specific pattern of three stripes. It is recognized by the white tip, orange in the center, and yellow at the widest end.
Caramel is often eaten as little brown, sweet, buttery nuggets wrapped in cello-phane, but it is also delicious in candy bars and on top of fresh popcorn. The best caramels are sweet and just a bit chewy.
Cherries may be either deliciously sweet and deep brown-red, or quite tart and bright red. The two most common are the sweet cherry, Prunus avium L., and the sour (often referred to by growers as the pie or tart) cherry Prunus cerasus L..
Chess is a classic two person board game. It is played with specially designed pieces on a square board made up of 64 alternating light and dark squares arranged in eight rows and columns.
A clothes iron is a household appliance used to press the wrinkles out of and creases into clothes. When the iron is turned on, the consumer moves it over an item of clothing on an ironing board.
Cognac, a type of brandy, is considered to be one of the finest, if not the finest, of the spirits. It is made from white grapes grown in the Charante region of France, and is named after the town of Cognac in the French region of Charante.
What is commonly called a coconut, as found in grocery stores, is actually only the single seed of a fruit of the coconut palm tree (Cocos nucifera). Before being shipped to market, the seed is stripped of an external leathery skin and a 2-3 in (5-8 cm) thick intermediate layer of fibrous pulp.
A comic book portrays a story through a series of sequential illustrations that incorporate short bits of text containing dialogue, sounds, or narratives. The story may be humorous, or it may present a world of adventure, mystery, or fantasy.
Uncorking a bottle of wine presents a challenge. There is no way to grip the cork, which is completely recessed in the bottle's neck.
Cotton is a shrubby plant that is a member of the Mallow family. Its name refers to the cream-colored fluffy fibers surrounding small cottonseeds called a boll.
The cuckoo clock is a favorite souvenir of travelers in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland, and particularly the Black Forest region of Germany. The clock is prized for a number of its features.
Washing dishes is not the most rewarding task. Cooking can be creative, but cleaning up afterward seems like a waste of time and leaves the person washing complaining about "dishpan hands." The development of the dishwasher has helped relieve some of the monotony, as well as the grease and grime.
Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) synthesis is a process by which copies of nucleic acid strands are made. In nature, DNA synthesis takes place in cells by a mechanism known as DNA replication.
A bridge over a navigable waterway must allow boats and ships to cross its path, usually by being tall enough to allow them to sail underneath it. Sometimes it is impractical to build a bridge high enough; for example, it may rise too steeply or block the view of an important landmark.
Duct tape is a cloth tape coated with a poly-ethylene resin on one side and very sticky rubber-based adhesive on the other. Unlike other tapes, the fabric backing gives duct tape strength yet allows it to be easily torn.
An electric blanket is a bed covering with a built-in heating element so that a sleeper can maintain a desired temperature even in a cold room. Many consumers prefer electric blankets because their use can reduce home heating costs.
Electronic ink is a special type of ink that can display different colors when exposed to an electric field. It is made through a two step process that involves creating two-toned charged particles and encapsulating them in a transparent polymeric shell.
Evaporated and condensed milk are two types of concentrated milk from which the water has been removed. Evaporated milk is milk concentrated to one-half or less its original bulk by evaporation under high pressures and temperatures, without the addition of sugar, and usually contains a specified amount of milk fat and solids.
A faucet is a device for delivering water from a plumbing system. It can consist of the following components: spout, handle(s), lift rod, cartridge, aerator, mixing chamber, and water inlets.
A ferris wheel is an amusement park ride consisting of a large vertical wheel with places for people to sit or stand spaced evenly around the outer circumference. In operation, the ferris wheel revolves about a horizontal axis, and the riders are alternately lifted and then lowered as they are carried around the wheel in a circle.
A flashlight is a portable, battery-operated device used for illumination. A typical unit consists of one or more dry cell batteries arranged in a line inside a battery compartment that forms the handle of the light.
Footbags are small, soft pliable bags filled with pellets or other small solid objects. Also known as Hacky Sacks—the brand name for certain footbags—they are a little bigger than a golf ball, a few inches in diameter and an ounce or so in weight.
A geodesic sphere is an arrangement of polygons that approximates a true sphere. A geodesic dome is a portion of a geodesic sphere.
The gyroscope is a familiar toy that is deceptively simple in appearance and introduces children to several mechanical principles, although they may not realize it. Something like a complex top made of precisely machined metal, the gyroscope is a spinning wheel that may be set within two or more circular frames, each oriented along a different line or axis.
A halogen lamp is a type of incandescent lamp. The conventional incandescent lamp contains a tungsten filament sealed within a glass envelope that is either evacuated or filled with an inert gas or a mixture of these gases (typically nitrogen, argon and krypton).
An industrial hard hat is a helmet worn to protect the head of a worker from falls or from impacts by sharp or blunt objects. Typical users include construction laborers, repairmen, and warehouse workers.
The harpsichord is the distinguished, classical ancestor of the piano. Its shape, described as a large wing shape, was developed hundreds of years before the similar shape of the grand piano.
Hockey pucks are flat, solid, black disk-shaped objects made of vulcanized rubber. Regulation National Hockey League (NHL) pucks are black, 3 in (7.6 cm) in diameter, 1 in (2.54 cm) thick, and weighing 5.5-6 oz (154-168 g).
Horseshoes protect a horse's hooves from wear on hard or rough surfaces. They are also designed to improve a horse's gait, to help its conformation (how the horse stands), and to control interference problems (when hooves or legs collide with each other).
The late 1950s saw one of biggest fads documented by sociologists, the Hula Hoop. Like many fads, the hoop is deceptively simple.
Today, the ice cream cone is a standard in any ice cream store or stand. This tasty treat is known as a way to cool down in the summer and makes an edible container for a cold snack.
Indigo, or indigotin, is a dyestuff originally extracted from the varieties of the indigo and woad plants. Indigo was known throughout the ancient world for its ability to color fabrics a deep blue.
Hemp is a distinct variety of the plant species Cannabis sativa L. that grows to a height anywhere from 4-15 ft (1.2-4.5 m) and up to 0.75 in (2 cm) in diameter.
The jawbreaker is a type of hard, round candy that is ideally so difficult to bite down on that it must be sucked. Jawbreakers range from the size of a hazel nut to the size of a golf ball, and come in many flavors and colors.
The kaleidoscope makes magic with light and mirrors. It may be considered a child's toy (or a toy for all ages), but it is also a simple optical device with technical applications for designers and pattern-makers.
Litmus paper is the most recognized member of chemical indicators. Like most pH paper, litmus changes color when exposed to an acidic or basic solution.
Lollipops, or suckers as some call them, are essentially hard candies with a short stick of some sort. The tightly wrapped white paper stick serves as a handle, and the hard candy lollipop is either sucked or bitten apart until consumed.
The matryoshka doll is a symbol of Russia and its culture. It is truly a doll—a child's plaything—but it began its history just over 100 years ago as a highly collectible art form.
Mayonnaise is a cold, emulsification used as sauce or as a condiment. It is made by blending egg yolks and oil, then flavored with varying combinations of vinegar, mustard, herbs and spices.
Mouthwash is a liquid oral product designed to freshen breath. Certain varieties may also kill bacteria and/or whiten teeth.
Natural gas is a mixture of combustible gases formed underground by the decomposition of organic materials in plant and animal. It is usually found in areas where oil is present, although there are several large underground reservoirs of natural gas where there is little or no oil.
Needle-free injection systems are novel ways to introduce various medicines into patients without piercing the skin with a conventional needle. They can take the form of power sprays, edible products, inhalers, and skin patches.
Paintball is a game developed in the 1980s that soon became popular worldwide. Players shoot pellets of paint from airguns at opposing players in a strategic game similar to the children's classic Capture the Flag.
Patent leather is leather that has been finished with chemicals that give it a shiny, reflective surface. It is usually black, and has long been popular for dress and dancing shoes.
Americans usually have two or three pillows on their bed. Today, pillows are stuffed primarily with materials such as polyester (a synthetic), feathers, down, or a combination of the latter two.
Pinball is a popular coin-operated game frequently found in amusement arcades. Players shoot small balls through complicated paths and into targets on a playing field under glass.
Polyurethanes are linear polymers that have a molecular backbone containing carbamate groups (-NHCO2). These groups, called urethane, are produced through a chemical reaction between a diisocyanate and a polyol.
In pool (the common American term for pocket billiards), a ball is struck with the end of a long, slender stick (cue), causing it to roll into other balls and knock them into holes (pockets) around the edges of the playing table. A short wall (rail) around the perimeter of the table keeps the balls on the playing surface.
The sound of an ice cream truck is a delight to the ears of children and adults alike on a hot summer day. That truck carries delicious concoctions that the industry calls collectively "frozen novelties." And it is guaranteed to carry a variety of frozen pops—ices, sherbets, pops in push tubes, and pops on sticks—in fruit flavors and colorful shapes and sizes.
Raincoats are jackets made of fabric that is specially treated to repel water. In 1836, Charles Macintosh invented a method for combining rubber with fabric, which was used in the first modern raincoats.
A roller coaster is an amusement park ride where passengers sit in a series of wheeled cars that are linked together. The cars move along a pair of rails supported by a wood or steel structure.
Rubber cement is a solution of unvulcanized (gum) rubber in a solvent, and is used as an adhesive. Ideally, it is meant to join two pieces of rubber together, which involves a chemical cohesion process.
For people who like to be near the water, sailboats provide a means of skimming over its surface. Even when the water is frozen, iceboats (sailboats with runners or blades on the hull) can glide across the ice.
Salad dressing is a type of sauce used to bind and flavor greens and/or vegetables.
A saxophone is a single reed, woodwind instrument first developed in the mid-1800s by Adolphe Sax. It is composed of a mouthpiece, conical metal tube, and finger keys.
The fruits that are grown, sold, and eaten are essentially the ripened ovary of a plant. In the wild, fruit-bearing plants spread their seeds either by dropping their ripe fruits to the ground or by being eaten by animals, who then excrete the seeds.
A laser, which is an acronym for Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation, is a device that converts energy into light. Electrical or optical energy is used to excite atoms or molecules, which then emit light.
It is understand how important shoes are for protecting feet from hazards and weather, and proper fit is necessary to maximize protection and comfort for the shoe's wearer. The shoelace is one way to ensure the proper fit, and a simple pair of laces, costing less than two dollars, can make all the difference in the world to the look and fit of a shoe.
Shortbread is a traditional Scottish baked good with a relatively simple recipe that consists of three basic ingredients (flour, butter, and sugar). Like most baked goods, it is produced in three steps consisting of ingredient mixing, product forming, and baking.
Second only to oxygen, silicon is the most abundant element in Earth's crust. It is found in rocks, sand, clays and soils, combined with either oxygen as silicon dioxide, or with oxygen and other elements as silicates.
A skateboard is a small piece of wood in the shape of a surfboard with four wheels attached to it. A single person rides the skateboard, guiding the movement with his feet.
There is no precise definition of how many stories or what height makes a building a skyscraper. "I don't think it is how many floors you have.
Slime is a unique play material composed of a cross-linked polymer. It is classified as a liquid and is typically made by combining polyvinyl alcohol solutions with borate ions in a large mixing container.
Snowshoes allow people to walk across the top of deep snow. They distribute weight so that the walker does not sink into soft drifts, and enable people to roam through landscapes that are usually impassible with only ordinary footwear.
Sodium chlorite is a compound used for water disinfection and purification. It is produced in large quantities as flakes or a solution from chlorine dioxide and sodium hydroxide.
A laser, which is an acronym for Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation, is a device that converts electrical or optical energy into light. Electrical or optical energy is used to excite atoms or molecules, which then emit monochromatic (single wavelength) light.
Spam is a brand name for a canned meat product containing ham, pork, salt, flavorings, and preservatives that are mixed and cooked under vacuum pressure. There are other brands of similar canned pork meat products, but Spam—made by Hormel Foods Corporation—is the original and the best-selling of the brands.
A spring is a device that changes its shape in response to an external force, returning to its original shape when the force is removed. The energy expended in deforming the spring is stored in it and can be recovered when the spring returns to its original shape.
Steel wool is the name given to fine metal wire that are bundled together to form a cluster of abrasive, sharp-edged metal strips. The metal strips are massed together in a sheet, folded, and turned into pads that are easily held in the hand.
More than half of the United States lie in a broad strip between the Appalachian and Rocky Mountains that is commonly called Tornado Alley. It has more tornado activity than any other area of the world.
Teeth whiteners are products designed to enhance the appearance of teeth by removing stains and improving brightness. These whiteners typically contain bleaching agents, such as hydrogen peroxide or other peroxygen-type chemicals, that remove organic residue and oxidize stains so they are less visible.
A machine gun is a weapon that fires a continuous stream of bullets as long as the trigger is held down. Many inventors worked to come up with such a gun, and early models are the well-known Gatling gun, used prominently in the American Civil War, and Hiram Maxim's fully automatic weapon, patented in 1883.
Most of us can't imagine living without toilet paper. The average American uses over 100 single rolls—about 21,000 sheets—each year.
Scale models or model kits are produced by the millions and give hours of pleasure to hobbyists. They're sold in specialized hobby and craft stores as well as toy, department, and drug stores—even supermarkets may carry them.
Trophies are a category of awards given primarily for academic, work, and sport contests or events. They are physical evidence that one person or group has bested another in some contest.
A tunnel is an underground or underwater passage that is primarily horizontal. Relatively small-diameter ones carry utility lines or function as pipelines.
The ukulele is a string instrument that originated in Portugal in the second century B.C. With a small, guitar-shaped body that is fitted with four strings, it is considered a member of the chordophone family.
The vacuum cleaner is the appliance that frightens the cat, is chased by the dog, and, perhaps, gives a home the most immediate appearance of being clean. Imagining a home without a vacuum cleaner is next to impossible; yet, like many time-and effort-saving devices, its widespread use is less than a century old.
The term vermiculite applies to a group of minerals characterized by their ability to expand into long, worm-like strands when heated. This expansion process is called exfoliation.
Pump-action water guns are a relatively recent addition to the water gun arsenal. Plastic squirt guns have long been a staple summer-time toy of American children.
Wood pieces are often decorated to add color and appeal. Wood products are often imparted with a wood-tone stain to enhance the natural grain or add depth or tone to the wood.
There are many kinds of wrapping papers manufactured specifically for the types of products they are intended to wrap. For example, wrapping paper is made for bread for sanitary and aesthetic purposes.
The xylophone is a component of the percussion section of an orchestra and many instrumental groups. Its unique sound, relative rarity, and appearance make it fascinating to the listener.