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This Week in Science History June 17
June 16, 1884 Coney Island began operating the first commercially successful gravity-powered American roller coaster. Starting at a height of 50 feet on one end, passengers rode a train downhill on undulating tracks over a wooden structure 600 feet long until its momentum died. The ride cost 5 cents. Roller coasters and amusement parks have come a long wild way since that first roller coaster ride.
June 17, 1870 George Cormack, the co-inventor of the breakfast cereal Wheaties, was born. Cormack, a health clinician accidentally invented the cereal in 1921 when he spilled a little of the bran gruel he was making for his patients onto a hot stove and it sizzled into a crispy flake. Being a cereal lover myself, I was fascinated by how Cormack created his cereal. He tested 36 varieties of wheat before he perfected his flakes. Incidentally while we are on the subject of breakfast cereal, Lester Borchardt, of General Mills invented Cheerios June 19, 1941 to provide a more convenient alternative to oatmeal. Originally called Cheeri Oats, this cereal almost didn’t get created. Borchardt and his team were working on a machine to puff cereal but his boss wanted him to stop work on the machine. Borchardt insisted on continuing and voilà, 2 months later Cheerios were created. He also invented Kix. Borchardt lived until he was 99 and ate Cheerios everyday-hmmm. As the mother of 3, his finger food cereals were a life saver for me when my children went through the toddler stage!
June 17, 1837 Charles Goodyear obtained his first rubber-processing patent (U.S. No. 240). At the time, india-rubber would melt in the summer heat but Goodyear devised a treatment with metallic solutions that resolved this problem. His discovery, which came to be known vulcanization strengthened rubber, vastly improved rubber’s application in a variety of industrial uses, one of which was automobile tires. Although his process revolutionized the rubber industry, he was unable to profit from his discovery and died a poor man.
Roller Coasters: United States and Canada