Letters aren’t the only way to read – try reading braille!

  • Braille is an alphabet-like system of ‘letters’ that enables the blind or visually impaired to read through the sense of touch, as opposed to sight.
  • Braille primarily translates the letters of a language using a specific placement of raised dots, generally six dots in a two (wide) by three (high) grid, and is usually read by the touch of fingertips.
  • Braille is based on a rejected dot communication system designed by Frenchman Charles Barbier in the the early 1800s, known as ‘Ecriture Nocturne’ or ‘night writing’, developed for use by Napoleon’s soldiers to ‘talk’ with each other without making noise or using light at night.
  • The night writing system became known to Louis Braille, a French boy, in 1821 in Paris, who identified its flaws and by 1824, at age 15, had reworked it into braille for the blind by reducing the grid from twelve to six dots, and encoding letters rather than sounds.
  • Two grades are typically used to classify braille; Grade 1 is usually used for encoding letters, while Grade 2 is generally an abbreviated and shortened version of words, without the need to spell each letter out as found in the first grade; though there is a Grade 3 system, which is usually one’s own shorthand version of the writing system.

Braille, Trivia, Ten Random Facts, Invention, Embossed, Toilet Block, English

  • Although braille differs in various countries, depending on the language, it is generally ordered and based on the original French version and alphabet, to reduce confusion; while a music notation system is also available, though it has also traditionally varied from country to country.
  • Braille is typically written using a typewriter, embossing printer, or a slate and stylus, although other printers are also used, and various handheld embossing devices with adhesive tape are also manufactured, that are popular for home use.
  • In both the United Kingdom and the United States, the large majority of visually impaired people cannot read braille, and the number of people learning the system has declined due in part, to new technologies like computerised screen readers being utilised.
  • Medicine labels in the United Kingdom are required to be embossed with braille, and while some other manufactured products and public signs include this writing system, most products and signs do not.
  • According to statistics, blind people fluent in braille are far more likely to be employed, than those who are not.
Braille, 2016, Wikipedia,
Braille: Deciphering the Code, 2014, American Foundation for the Blind,
What is Braille?, 2015, American Foundation for the Blind,



Even modern phoropters look like gizmos from the 1900s.

  • Phoropters are an invention used primarily to determine the refraction error – the inaccuracy of an eye’s ability to focus light, of a person’s eyes.
  • ‘Phoropters’ are also known as ‘refractors’, and the word may be spelled ‘phoroptors’.
  • A phoropter has a set of interchangeable lens, and as the lenses are changed, the patient is required to comment on the lens effectiveness.
  • The term ‘phoropter’ originated as a trademark from 1921, originally owned by DeZeng Standard, and was a shortened form of ‘phoro-optometer’.
  • While using a phoropter, a patient is normally required to look at an eye chart from behind the machine as the machine’s lenses are interchanged, to determine whether they can see more clearly, or less so.

Phoropter, Invention, Optometrist, Trivia, Ten Random Facts, Mechanism,

  • Phoropters typically consist of twin ellipsoid plates that sit next to the left and right sides of one’s face, and are connected to an overhanging and adjustable beam.
  • The practice of using lenses interchangeably to measure optics originated from the 1600s, while early predecessors of the phoropter first emerged in the 1800s.
  • Phoropters were first patented in 1909 by American Henry DeZeng, though a patent by American Nathan Shigon was also accepted a year later.
  • Although commonly used to measure refraction error, phoropters can be used to determine optical posture, as well as rest positions and amplitudes of the eyes.
  • Ophthalmologists and optometrists, especially those who handle eye tests, will most often use a phoropter, to enable an accurate spectacles’ prescription for a patient.
Phoropter Handouts, n.d, Scribd.,
Phoropter, 2015, Wikipedia,
What Is It: Phoropter, 2013, Eyeglass Guide,


Cotton Swab

Cotton swabs are not limited to ear cleaning.

  • A cotton swab is a small invention that has fibre wrapped around the tips of a small rod, and it is often purchased in a bulk pack from supermarkets.
  • ‘Cotton swabs’ are also known as ‘cotton buds’, and by the prominent brand name of ‘Q-tips’, which stands for ‘quality tips’.
  • Cotton swabs are typically used for various cleaning purposes, from ear wax to lasers in compact disc players and the like; or to assist in a medical environment for tasks like collecting specimens, for testing and diagnosis purposes; as well as applying or removing substances such as paint or makeup.
  • One or both ends of cotton swabs can have fibre attached, depending on the purpose, and they can range in length from 7.5 to 25 centimetres (3 to 10 inches) and the size is generally relevant to its function.
  • The rods of cotton swabs are normally made of plastic, paper or wood, and they vary widely in colour, from white, blue, red, green and yellow among others; while the fibre is generally white and made of cotton or a synthetic material.

Cotton Bud, Bundle, Assortment, Clean, Ten Random Facts, Invention, Hygiene,

  • Cotton swabs were invented by Polish born Leo Gerstenzang, in the United States of America, designed in 1923, and were inspired by his wife’s potentially dangerous innovation that made use of cotton on the end of wooden toothpicks for cleaning ears.
  • The original target audience for cotton swabs marketed by Leo Gerstenzang were babies, on which his wife commonly used the invention, while the name that was initially used for his product was ‘Baby Gays’.
  • Cotton swabs are not recommended for cleaning inside ears, as careless usage can damage ear organs or cause blockage of earwax, both of which are a result of pushing the swab into one’s ear canal, although they are commonly used for this purpose.
  • To make a cotton swab, fibre is generally fed onto the end of a spinning rod that has glue applied, which is then compressed and made smooth, and then packaged into packets or containers.
  • Some cotton swabs, especially those for medical purposes, are singly wrapped to ensure they are sterile, and come with a slim container that is used to hold the swab and its specimen for later examination.
Cotton Swab, 2015, How Products are Made,
Cotton Swab, 2015, Wikipedia,
The History and Evolution of the Swab, 2014, Puritan,


Ice Pack

It is never a good idea to eat an ice pack.

  • An ice pack is generally a sealed pouch that contains liquid or a semi-liquid substance, such as water or gel, that emits cold temperatures for extended periods of time, generally after freezing the pack.
  • ‘Ice packs’ are also known as ‘gel packs’ and ‘cold packs’, while ‘ice bricks’ are often used for the same purpose, although they usually have a rigid casing.
  • Ice packs are typically used to keep items at low temperatures, like food items in a cooler or portable ice box, or a shipping container; as well as for medical purposes, like reducing swelling and pain from minor injuries.
  • Ice packs are usually soft, plastic pouches, often rectangular in shape, but various other shapes are also available, and their advantage over ice bricks is that they are often more flexible, allowing them to be moulded around a human limb.
  • Some ice packs can be permanently stored at room temperatures, and can be ‘cracked’ when needed, to create a chemical reaction that releases cool temperatures.

Ice Pack, Gel, Ten Random Facts, Blue, Hot and Cold, Reusable

  • The substance in ice packs can be toxic and potentially fatal, and toxic gels include ethylene or diethylene glycol, which can be illegal in some countries.
  • Common, safe gels used in ice packs include hydroxyethyl cellulose or silica gel, and they are most often coloured blue, but come in a variety of colours.
  • Often ice pack’s contain gel, however, when the pouch contains a liquid, the liquid will still usually contain chemicals that assist with keeping the pack colder for longer.
  • One of the earliest ice pack patents was filed in 1938, by Claude Brown from Chicago, in the United States, and ice packs were available for purchase in 1948.
  • Some ice packs can also be heated to be used for similar purposes, except they emit hot temperatures instead of cold.


Ice Pack, 2014, Wikipedia,
M Rehak, Who Made That Ice Pack?, 2014, The New York Times,



Have you ever been prescribed amoxicillin?

  • Amoxicillin is a medical drug often prescribed to treat bacterial problems or infection.
  • Of all antibiotics, amoxicillin is the most frequently used antibiotic that is given to children.
  • ‘Amoxicillin’ is also known as ‘amoxycillin’ and ‘amox’, and it is packaged under numerous brand names.
  • Amoxicillin was created by The Beecham Group, a pharmaceutical company from the United Kingdom, Europe, in the 1960s, and was first made publically available in 1972.
  • Amoxicillin can cause rashes, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, dizziness and other reactions, often as a result of an allergic reaction or incorrect use.

Amoxicillin, Amoxycillin, Tablet, Pill,500mg, Cilamox, Ten Random Fqcts, Drug, Antibiotic, Ten Random Facts

  • Amoxicillin was the second aminopenicillin belonging to the penicillin family, that was made publicly available in the world, and it contains a β-lactam (beta-lactam) ring in the molecule structure that inhibits bacterial cell wall synthesis.
  • Amoxicillin is made of carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen and sulphur, in a chemical structure of C16H19N3O5S, and it is listed in the World Health Organistion’s Model List of Essential Medicines as a required medicine for basic healthcare.
  • Amoxicillin is most commonly available in the form of a liquid, capsule, chewable tablet, and powder, and it is usually only available by prescription
  • Typically, amoxicillin is required to be taken during or within an hour of the consumption of food, and should be taken at the same times daily until it is finished.
  • Amoxicillin is often taken by way of mouth, although it can be injected into a vein.


Allen H, Amoxicillin for Infections, 2013,,
Amoxicillin, 2014,,
Amoxicillin, 2014, Wikipedia,


Shaving Cream

Have you ever thought about the invention of shaving cream?

  • Shaving cream is a foamy mixture placed on the body, typically the face, during the process of removing, or shaving, hairs.
  • ‘Shaving cream’ is also known as ‘shaving foam’.
  • Shaving cream is typically used with a razor to create an easier and smoother cutting process and to help protect the skin from the razor blade.
  • Before shaving cream, a type of soap made from animal fat and wood ash was used in a similar way, and was invented thousands of years ago in Mesopotamia, now modern day Middle East, by Sumerians.
  • Shaving cream was originally manufactured as a solid prism, like soap blocks, and an early foaming soap for shaving purposes was produced in 1840, while in the 1900s the products became more foamy and were generally applied by brush.

Shaving Cream, Bottle, Purple, Green, Cillette, Rapid Shave, Foam, White, Cans, Pressure, Ten Random Facts, Men, Hygiene

  • Modern day shaving cream is most often bought in cylindrical cans, that are pressurised, and have a spray function and nozzle.
  • Shaving cream that expands against a change of pressure was invented in 1949 by the American healthcare company Carter-Wallace, and quickly became very popular, although gases emitted from the pressurised cans were later considered environmentally unfriendly, so the propellants were eventually changed.
  • Shaving cream is generally made of water, oils, soap and other agents used primarily for hygiene.
  • Shaving cream is usually white in colour and has a texture of cream or foam, and it can also be a gel-like substance.
  • Shaving cream products need to be tested before being being released to customers, for the size of the foam once emitted, rate of absorption, water purity, and pH levels, and the standards are set by agencies such as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Shaving Cream, 2014, How Products are Made,
Shaving Cream, 2014, Wikipedia,
History of Shaving Cream, Part 1 (of 1), 2012, Perfect Shave,


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