A little creativity can go a long way. See how these famous inventors from Mississippi and Alabama thought up some amazing ideas that helped to change the world as we know it. You might be surprised by what you learn.
Although the familiar flavor of Coca-Cola was created in syrup form in Atlanta, Georgia, the delicious beverage was first bottled in Vicksburg, Mississippi by Joseph Biedenharn. Originally, the Coca-Cola syrup was distributed to soda fountains across the South, but when demand increased, the soda was bottled so it could be enjoyed anywhere. Today, visitors can enjoy delving into the history of Coca-Cola by visiting the Biedenharn Coca-Cola Museum in Vicksburg, Mississippi. Explore exhibits that tell the story of Coca-Cola’s beginnings and the Biedenharn family, and see reproductions of the equipment used to first bottle the soda. Collections of Coca-Cola advertising and memorabilia are also on display. Find museum hours and other information at www.biedenharncoca-colamuseum.com/about.htm.
The sounds of the South are associated with nothing as strongly as with the soulful melodies of the blues. The Mississippi Delta is known as the birthplace of the blues with the music’s history dating back to before the Civil War. The blues were a form of documentation of the history of the region, and the songs and music were passed down in a variety of forms until records were finally made. The Mississippi Delta has produced some of the most influential blues artists. While places like Memphis and Chicago helped amplify the sounds of the genre, Mississippi is still considered the emotional heart of the blues for musicians, historians and others. Dig deeper into this genre’s history by visiting the Delta Blues Museum in Clarksdale, Mississippi. Check out exhibits on famous blues artists such as Son House and William Ferris. The exhibit Mississippi: State of the Blues features 30 photos from the region taken by Ken Murphy. Learn more at www.deltabluesmuseum.org.
Percy Lavon Julian was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 1990 for his synthesis of cortisone to treat rheumatoid arthritis and other inflammatory conditions; he also synthesized physostigmine to treat glaucoma. Julian was born in Montgomery, Alabama and with very little prior schooling, went on to earn degrees from noteworthy institutions such as DePauw University, Harvard University and the University of Vienna. In addition to these medical inventions, Julian received more than 100 patents including one for a foam used to extinguish gasoline and oil fires. Invent Now, the website of the National Inventors Hall of Fame and Museum, offers a wealth of information and resources about and for inventors including Camp Invention and Club Invention programs for kids. Visit www.invent.org for more information.
According to Stan Diel at the Birmingham News, Alabamians were hard at work in 2010 producing a record number of patents. With 618 patents issued by November 2010, the state beat its previous record of highest number of patents set – 595 in 2002. Many patents were awarded to Alabama’s universities and high-tech companies, as well as to residents working independently. These recent inventions include a tail-wagging deer decoy and a new variety of kiwi. Some of the most popular items that “armchair inventors” attempt to patent in Alabama are fishing lures. Learn more about Alabama’s inventive year at http://blog.al.com/businessnews/2010/12/alabama_inventiveness.html.
New inventions are thought up every day – some change the world and some make a small splash in a giant pool of ideas. Take some time to learn about the interesting inventions that came from your state, and you might be inspired to invent something yourself.