William Jenney is called “The Father of the Skyscraper” for his 10-story Home Insurance Building built in Chicago in 1884. It was the first to use an internal steel frame to support the structure.
As of 2012, the world’s tallest building is Burj Khalifa in Dubai, at 160 floors.
Shibam, Yemen is called “the oldest skyscraper city in the world” or “the Manhattan of the desert.” Most of the multi-story mud brick structures were built in the 17th century.
Elisha Otis introduced the safety elevator in 1857, it which made skyscrapers feasible by allowing convenient and safe passenger movement to upper floors.
The most expensive high-rise resort complex is the Marina Bay Sands in Singapore with a price tag of $8 billion.
Some experts believe that the Great Ziggurat of Babylon (raised up in the 6th century BC) may have been the Bible’s Tower of Babel.
Before the 2001 World Trade Center attacks, the 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in a 10-story building was the worst land disaster in New York City. Skyscraper safety regulations followed.
Before it was used to describe tall buildings, the word “skyscraper” could refer to items like very tall boat sails, hats or even towering baseball hits.
The Chrysler Building was the world’s tallest building for 11 months before it was surpassed by the Empire State Building in 1931.
Frank Lloyd Wright proposed, but never built, a 528-story building in Chicago. It was to be named the Mile High Illinois. It would have been 4 times the height of the then tallest building.
After first trying light and then radio waves (they both had problems), engineer Robert Adler used ultrasound to create the first practical TV remote control control in 1956.
In 1998 the “tallest building” title went from the U.S. to Malaysia with the opening of Kuala Lumpur’s Petronas Twin Towers at 451.9 meters high.
In 2003, London’s most distinctive building, 30 St Mary Axe (aka “The Gherkin”) was completed. Other creative nicknames include “Crystal Phallus” and “the Towering Innuendo.”
Despite much negative reaction from the British press, developer Irvine Sellar predicted his towering new London skyscraper, “The Shard,” will “kick sand in the face of the Eiffel Tower.”
For their test flights, Orville and Wilbur Wright chose Kitty Hawk, North Carolina both for its steady winds and for its soft, sandy landing spots in case of unexpected rapid descents.
In 1914, a Russian Ilya Muromets airliner had a passenger saloon, wicker chairs, bedroom, lounge and a bathroom. The aircraft also had heating and electrical lighting.
If you need to get somewhere fast, take a ride on the fastest passenger plane in the world (as of October 2012), the Cessna Citation X. Climb in at Miami and climb out in London six hours later.
Owning a plane isn’t just for the rich these days. You can pick up an Aeronca Chief for less than the cost of most cars (around $15,000).
The fastest plane for public sale flies at just over 1100 km/h (700 mph).
In 1930, Ellen Church, a nurse, convinced Boeing to hire her as a flight stewardess, and she became the first to fly in this new profession. Only nurses were originally hired.
Norwegian-American Ole Evinrude was inspired to invent the first outboard motor when ice cream he was bringing to his girlfriend for a lakeside picnic melted on a slow rowboat ride.
The Concorde’s cruising speed was Mach 2.02 (more than twice as fast as any other jetliner). That’s New York to London in 3 hours, 15 minutes. Its altitude was about four miles.
On October 14, 1947, the legendary Chuck Yeager became the first man to fly faster than Mach 1, the speed of sound. He was piloting the Bell X-1, a bullet-shaped rocket plane.
In 1783, Frenchman Jean Pilâtre de Rozier (with the Marquis d’Arlandes) made the first manned balloon flight, reaching a peak altitude of about 150 meters, traveling about 9 km in 20 minutes.
In an amazing (and literal) leap of faith, André-Jacques Garnerin took the first parachute jump ever in 1798, dropping 2,000 meters out of a balloon basket over Monceau Park in Paris.
Orville Wright made the first successful turn in an airplane on 15 September 1904, nearly a year after the first flight. Five days later his brother Wilbur made the first complete circle.
In 1910, Baroness Raymonde de la Roche of France became the first licensed female pilot, receiving license No. 36 from Aero-Club of France.
You’ve probably heard of Charles Lindbergh. But what about German Hermann Koehl and Irish James Fitzmaurice? In 1928, they were first to cross the Atlantic the other way, Dublin to New York.
In one of the business ventures she used to help fund her flying career, aviation pioneer Amelia Earhart developed the first line of lightweight luggage designed specifically for air travel.
The first jetliner service was the De Havilland Comet flight on 2 May 1952. It was run by BOAC between London and Johannesburg, South Africa. The flight (including stops) took 23 hr., 38 min.
The world’s longest nonstop commercial flight took place on 10 November 2005. A Boeing 777-200LR Worldliner flew from London to Hong Kong [21,600 km] in 22 hrs., 43 min.
Due to heating from atmospheric friction, the Concorde jet could not be touched for about 15 minutes after it landed.
Aircraft engines produce so much power that they cannot use the generic term “horsepower” to rate them. Instead, they are rated in “thrust/lbs.”
The French Airbus A380 is so big that many airports around the world had to expand their runways to accommodate the aircraft.
The Boeing 747-400ER can carry more than 240,370 liters of fuel, making it possible to fly extremely long routes, such as Los Angeles to Melbourne, Australia.
Due to computerized automated flight programs, today’s airline pilot has manual control for only about 3 minutes throughout the entire flight, during takeoff and landing.
In 1806 Benjamin Thompson invented a coffee pot with a metal sieve that strained the grounds. Before that, coffee lovers had to avoid or chew the grounds.
Before he invented the machine gun, Hiram Maxim sparred with Thomas Edison in the electric lighting business and is credited with patenting the first electric hair curling iron.
Chinese alchemists “accidentally” invented gunpowder around the 9th century while searching for an “elixir of immortality.”
The disposable diaper was invented by housewife Marion Donovan in the early 1950s. It was originally rejected by big manufacturers until her invention was picked up and released to market as Pampers®.
Ivory Soap was invented by accident when a workman left the soap mixing machine on too long, adding air, causing the soap to float. Customers liked the mistake so the process has been used ever since.
Johnson & Johnson employee Earl Dickson’s accident-prone wife inspired the invention of the Band-Aid®. This concerned husband wanted her to have a bandage she could put on herself.
The inventor of the World Wide Web, British-born Tim Berners-Lee, never patented his ideas of “hypertext” and “surfing.” He feared the Web would be too expensive for users if he did.
The formulas for Cola-Cola and Silly Putty have never been patented. They are both trade secrets that are shared only with selected trustworthy company employees.
Benjamin Franklin invented bifocals because he got tired of having to carry two pairs of glasses with him.
“Patent leather” got its name because the process of applying the polished black finish to leather was once patented.
As of 2011, the world’s current leading patent holder is Australian Kia Silverbrook who holds over 9,000 international patents. His inventions are used in dozens of different technologies by millions of people.
American supermarket owner Sylvan Goldman came up with the first shopping carts so his customers could buy more during a single visit. He became fabulously wealthy off shopping cart royalties.
Japanese drummer Daisuke Inoue invented karaoke (literal translation: empty orchestra) when he provided an off-key businessman with a tape of drum accompaniment to sing to.
The word “sneaker” is from Henry Nelson McKinney, an ad agent who, in 1917, coined the term because the rubber sole made the shoe quiet.
The paperclip was thought to be invented in 1901 by Norwegian inventor and patent clerk Johan Vaaler. But it turns out that it existed, but was not patented, as early as the 1860s in the US and UK.
The first fax machine was invented in 1843 (yes … you read that right) by Scottish mechanic and inventor Alexander Bain. It evolved from the technology of the telegraph.
Thomas Edison filed 1,093 patents during his lifetime, including the light bulb, electric railways and the movie camera. When he died in 1931, he held 389 patents for electric light and power alone.
In 1912 French inventor Georges Claude installed the first-ever neon advertising sign in a Parisian barbershop on the Boulevard Montmartre.
Heron of Alexandria invented the vending machine in the first century, AD. When a coin was deposited into a slot on the top of the machine, holy water was dispensed.
It makes you wonder what people did for nearly half a century, but the can opener was not invented until 48 years after cans were introduced.
Who invented the telephone? Elisha Gray and Alexander Graham Bell registered their patents only hours apart in 1876. After years of litigation, the patent went to Bell.
Just about every term used to measure or quantify electricity is taken from the names of European inventors: Alessandro Volta, Georg Simon Ohm, James Watt, and André-Marie Ampère.
The first email was sent in 1972 by Ray Tomlinson. “Spam” came much later. It was also Mr. Tomlinson’s idea to use the @ sign to separate the name of the user from the name of their computer.
It took three years of continuous printing to create Johann Gutenberg’s famous Bible. Published in 1455, it was two volumes and 1,284 pages. He reportedly printed 200 Bibles, of which 47 still exist.
The modern shoestring was first invented in England in 1790. Before that, shoes were commonly fastened with buckles. The rite of passage of learning to tie one’s shoes soon followed.
Invented in 1859 by Nathan Ames, the escalator originally went by many names including Magic Stairway and Inclined Elevator.
Thomas Edison once envisioned 40,000-page books made of metal that would have been two inches thick and weigh a couple of kilos (about a pound). Sounds a lot like the modern tablet!
Well before the cell phone, African talking drums sent wireless messages across long distances at speeds around 160 km/h.
The Arab Spring rebellions were spurred on by extensive use of cell phones for calls, texts and pictures. Never have so many people participated in covering breaking news.
Many of us find cell phones annoying. One Los Angeles restaurant offers a 5 percent discount if you leave yours with the receptionist as you enjoy your meal.
1940s movie star Hedy Lamarr was not just a pretty face. She invented a process that ensures the reliability and security of cell phone calls today.
Cell phones have led to the virtual disappearance of most public phone booths. (This could be bad news for Superman, who, by the way, just left his job at the Daily Planet to reinvent himself!).
The 1983 Motorola DynaTAC 8000X was the world’s first commercial cell phone. It was the size of a large brick.
In 1983, the revolutionary Motorola DynaTAC 8000X mobile phone offered: 30 minutes of talk time, 8 hours of standby and recall of 30 numbers. All for $3,995!
The first ballpoint pen was invented by Hungarian hypnotist and journalist László Bíró and his chemist brother, György, in 1938.
If you drove the world’s fastest car non-stop at top speed, you would get from New York to Los Angeles in a little over 10 hours.
Car payments, insurance, gas, upkeep … the average annual cost of car ownership in the United States is $8,946. Compact models average $6,735 per vehicle, while 4WD SUVs top the charts at $11,360.
As of 2011, the most popular car colors worldwide in order are white, black, silver, gray, red, blue, and brown.
The best selling car of all time is the Toyota Corolla. 37.5 million of them have been sold. Next is the Ford F-Series at 35 million.
In the late 1600s, a Flemish missionary allegedly built a small steam-powered car as a toy to amuse the Emperor of China. If true, it would have been the world’s first automobile prototype.
The Ford “Model T” car first cost $850 in 1909 when it was released. It dropped to $440 by 1915 as a result of mass production techniques.
Most of the very early automobiles were “open tourers,” or what we would call convertibles. Some of the very first extra options for purchase were roofs and heaters.
Thanks largely to Henry Ford, by the end of 1926, 80% of all the automobiles in the world were found in the United States and over half of American families owned a car.
Do you know Mary Anderson? She was a real estate developer, rancher, viticulturist (that’s the study of grapevines) and – in 1903 – the inventor of the windshield wiper.
The Motorola Company got a running start when its founder Paul Galvin invented the first car radio in 1929.
In Canada, cars kill ten times more moose and deer than hunters do. So now some drivers attach a plastic device that sends out a warning noise at a frequency humans cannot hear.
The most expensive speeding ticket ever given out went to a wealthy Swedish driver in Switzerland who was doing a leisurely 300 km/h. His fine was 650,000 euros.
The busiest roads in the world are in Monaco, where there are 370 vehicles per kilometer of road. Next is Singapore at 207, then Kuwait, 181.
The first speed limits came to the UK in 1865. They restricted “road locomotives” (a term which included all wheeled vehicles) to travel at a maximum of 6 kph in the country and 3 kph in towns.
The longest traffic jam ever was 175 kilometers long, spanning from Lyon to Paris on February 16, 1980. It seems that everyone in France came back from their ski holiday at once.
On a tight budget? You may be interested in purchasing the world’s cheapest car. It’s called the Tata Nano, and it comes from India. If you have just about 2,300 euros, it’s all yours!
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the 12-volt car battery is the most recycled product in the world. In the U.S. alone, 99% of all batteries sold are recycled.
The first person convicted of speeding was probably Walter Arnold in the UK. In 1896 Walter was fined for rampaging along at 13 km/h in a 3.2 km/h zone. He was fined 1 shilling plus costs.
Experts believe that the world’s first traffic death involving a motor vehicle occurred on 31 August 1869, when Irish scientist Mary Ward fell out of her cousin’s steam car and was run over by it.
It takes about three weeks to build a Ferrari California, the closest thing to what could be called an “assembly line” Ferrari. Still, they only make around 2500 each year.
Invented in 1782 in France, hot air balloons only travel as fast as the wind can take them.