by Lucas Aresin
Hungarian minds have been the source of many inventions and innovations, many of which impacted the world and our lives today. And for being a comparatively small country, Hungary has 13 Nobel prizes under its belt – which is quite impressive.
Let's have a look at some of the more famous Hungarian inventions along with their inventors and if you're in the mood, watch this cool video that shows even more through a story set in Budapest!
Rubik's Cube by Ernő Rubik
Who hasn't spent at least a few tries with a Rubik's cube, only to then admit that it's harder than it looks! You're happy when you solve one single line, then you feel amazing when you clear one entire side, but after that it gets very difficult quickly . The rubik's cube was invented in 1974 by Hungarian sculptor and architecture professor Ernő Rubik. It was at first called 'Magic cube' and sold as a puzzle. Today, it's the world's best-selling puzzle, and ushered in the 3D-puzzle craze that reached its height in the 1980s. Did you know that there are 'speedcubers', people who solve Rubik's cubes as fast as they can? The world record is currently held by Feliks Zemdegs, with astounding 4.37 seconds but Justin Bieber can do it within 2 minutes..
Ballpoint Pen by László Bíró
In today's age of writing less and less by hand, not having to refill your pen with ink constantly doesn't sound like a big deal, but 100 years ago it was. While the first patent for the mechanism of the pen was issued in 1888 by John J. Loud, it was László Bíró who invented the right, viscose ink with the help of his brother, a chemist. In the original design, ink was too liquid and would often seep out of the pen. László's ink was much thicker and worked better. He got the idea when he noticed that newspaper ink dried much faster than traditional ink, leaving the paper smudge-free. Good thinking! His last name is also the reason why in some parts of the world, a ball-point pen is called a "biro".
First Nuclear Reactor by Leo Szilárd
Leo Szilard, born in 1898 in Budapest, originally studied engineering in Berlin-Charlottenburg, but quickly became bored with that and then switched his field of studies to physics. Being a smart and forward-thinking man of his time, he anticipated the second world war in Europe and fled to the United States in 1938. There, he worked together with Enrico Fermi on creating the first nuclear chain reaction. He later worked on the Manhattan project. He came up with a petition to demonstrate nuclear weapons before using them, a plea that was ignored by the United States, who then proceeded to use them without warning.
Vitamin-C by Albert Szent-Györgyi
Okay, Vitamin C was not invented, of course, but someone had to discover it and learn about its properties, and that man was Albert Szent-Györgyi. Born in 1893, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine.
And of course, early experiments used paprika for Vitamin C. Vitamin C has antiscorbutic properties, which was a bigger deal in Albert's times. Today, diseases like scurvy are much less common in the developed world.
Digital Computing by John von Neumann
Although John von Neumann had a German last name, and an English first name, he was born 'Neumann János Lajos' in Hungary in 1903. His contributions to the modern world are plentiful, and while he did work on the Manhattan project itself, he is also seen as a pioneering figure in computing. For example, he developed the 'merge sort algorithm', which is used in modern programming languages. Von Neumann's cognitive abilities stunned professional peers, as he could perform complex mathematical operations in his head instantaneously – like a computer. Can you see the connection?
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