Subjugation of rubber

The word 'rubber' in the language of Amazon’s Indians is pronounced 'cao-choo' and means 'tears of a tree'. Many years after Columbus had voyaged, the Europeans visiting America became acquainted with rubber and learnt to saturate their raincoats with juice of a rubber-bearing tree like local people did. But in the Old World rubber appeared only in 1751 when the french mathematician Charles-Marie de la Condamine brought a small piece of the stark juice back to Europe. He had been studying the trophy for a long time but he did no idea what benefit it could bring him personally or to the mankind as a whole. Rubber had no properties except an elasticity, so the mathematician named the American elastic mass as a gum-eraser and forgot about it. Only 20 years later a chemist found an application for this stark juice.

In 1770 the English priest and chemist Joseph Priestley noticed that rubber can erase records made with a pencil. At this time Joseph Priestley was busy writing the big treatise 'The appeal to the serious and fair professors of Christianity' and investigating the role of carbonic gas in plants' breathing. During this period Priestly discovered by chance that natural raw rubber was able to erase traces of graphite better than pieces of bread that were used at that time. He discovered that frictions of rubber on paper produces electrostatic voltage which makes particles of rubber and particles of graphite gravitate. Priestley named this substance as 'the Indian rubber' because the origin of rubber was America and all american things were named Indian that is why this inaccurate name remains until now.

But the experiments with rubber continued. When the Scottish chemist Charles Mac Intosh soiled either his jacket or his trousers with it, it appeared that his soiled clothes achieved water-proof properties. Thus a rubberized raincoat was born named 'macintosh' after its inventor. However 'the Scottish raincoat' had some problems. The natural rubber lost elasticity in the cold and softened in the heat, becoming sticky and smelly.

When the English shoemaker Rilli started to produce rubber footwear his goods aroused a great interest at first. But when the summer sun warmed up, the boots and galoshes on the shelves of his store melted. Despite Rilly’s failure, the american Charles Goodyear continued this business. He was poor but he worked tirelessly to subjugate rubber. One industrialist became very interested in the experiments of this self-educated inventor and decided to find him. He asked Goodyear’s neighbors about him and they answered: 'if you meet a person in a rubber cap, trousers, a frock coat, a cape, boots and a rubber purse without any money, this is Goodyear'. Despite this funny description Goodyear revolutionized the manufacturing of rubber products. In 1843 he was granted the patent on the vulcanization of rubber which is the special process of incorporating rubber and sulfur to enable rubber to avoid a drop of temperature.

As you can see many interesting historical persons studied rubber. Also we should be grateful to Priestley for aerated water, and to Goodyear – whose name glorify world-known tyres.


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