As in many other areas of life, Latinos have excelled in the fields of science and technology. Some of the devices invented years ago by members of this community are still of great use today, from everyday devices such as the color television to medical instruments such as the diamond-tipped scalpel. Here is a list of the best technological inventions developed by Latinos.
Santos Dumont was born in Brazil, in 1873, and was an engineer considered by some aeronautics specialists as the “father of modern aviation,” although some people give this title to the Wright brothers after their famous flight on December 17, 1903. However, on October 23, 1906, Dumont became the first person to take off aboard an airplane powered by an airplane engine. He flew almost 60 meters (197 feet), at a height of 3 meters, (10 feet) on a pre-established route in the Bagatelle field in Paris as specialists and press looked on.
Born in Costa Rica, Franklin Chang is a successful astronaut and physicist, as well as one of the most recognized in the space race. He is the founder and president of Ad Astra Rocket Company, a rocket technology firm. Chang completed seven space voyages and developed the Variable Specific Impulse Magnetoplasma Imager Motor (VASIMIR).
VASIMIR is a plasma-based engine designed for space vehicle propulsion. This idea originated in 1979, and today Chang’s company is working on its development in collaboration with several companies and research centers.
Created by Venezuelan scientist and physician Humberto Fernández Morán, the diamond knife is a high-precision instrument used in ophthalmic microsurgery, among other surgical procedures. It is also used to make ultrafine cuts in materials ranging from biological tissues to lunar samples taken by astronauts.
In 1967, Morán received the John Scott Award and was nominated for the Nobel Prize for his important invention.
Armando M. Fernandez is the Mexican who invented and named the mousepad in 1979. The purpose of this invention, according to Fernandez, was to give more speed and precision to the mouse, as well as to make it more comfortable to work with. In addition, this device avoids wear and tear on the surface of the desktop from the continuous rubbing of the mouse. In 1982, Steve Jobs launched his first computers, which among their peripherals included an optical mouse and Fernandez’s mousepad.
Guillermo González Camarena was the Mexican engineer who invented the color television. González Camarena developed the system in the 1930s and applied for a patent in 1940. Camarena also invented a simplified color system that was used by NASA in 1979 to take photographs and videos of Jupiter.
In 1940, Camarena invented the trichromatic sequential field system (STSC) to transmit color television worldwide. In the 1960s, he also developed a simpler system for generating color, called simplified bicolor. González Camarena launched color television in Mexico years before the implementation of the National Television System Committee standard. He also founded Channel 5 in Mexico City in 1952.
Originally, the pacemaker was a giant device that had to be carried outside the body as an accessory. But Jorge Reynolds, an electronics engineer from Bogotá, Colombia, invented the first intravenous pacemaker in 1958, a device that has been used by more than 48 million people around the world. Reynolds still contributes to science and is now betting on the nanopacemaker, which measures a quarter of a grain of rice and weighs 1.7 grams.
One of the most reliable systems for measuring the intensity of earthquakes is the Instrumental Seismic Intensity, or Arias Intensity, system named after its inventor, Chilean scientist Arturo Arias. It determines the damage that an earthquake causes to structures and buildings in an area. Arias developed the system in 1969, and it remains fundamental to the design of earthquake-resistant buildings.
Alejandro Zaffaroni of Uruguay, the father of controlled drug-dosing methods, developed the conceptual beginnings of transdermal patches. Thanks to Zaffaroni, today we can administer pain medications, antidepressants, hormones, and nicotine through the patches.
Luis Miramontes from Tepic, Nayarit, Mexico, is the man behind the birth control pill. In 1951, at just 26 years old, the chemical engineer and graduate of the National Autonomous University of Mexico succeeded in synthesizing norethisterone. This basic component of the contraceptive pill was later considered one of the most important molecules in history.
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