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Mar 28, 2011

Accidental Inventor of Super Glue Dead at 94

Most people don't live to be 94. Most people don't receive the National Medal of Technology and Innovation. Most people also don't invent, by accident, an extremely useful and widespread super-substance. Harry Coover, who died Saturday, did all these things.

In what must have been a very messy moment of discovery in 1942, Dr. Harry Coover of Eastman-Kodak Laboratories found that a substance he created-cyanoacrylate-was a miserable failure. It was not, to his dismay, at all suited for a new precision gun sight as he had hoped-it infuriatingly stuck to everything it touched. So it was forgotten. Six years later, while overseeing an experimental new design for airplane canopies, Coover found himself stuck in the same gooey mess with a familiar foe-cyanacrylate was proving useless as ever. But this time, Coover observed that the stuff formed an incredibly strong bond without needing heat. Coover and his team tinkered with sticking various objects in their lab together, and realized they had finally stumbled upon a use for the maddening goop. Coover slapped a patent on his discovery, and in 1958, a full 16 years after he first got stuck, cyanoacrylate was being sold on shelves.

Coover died over the weekend, according to his grandson—but not before racking up a PhD, 460 patents, and a spot in the National Inventors Hall of Fame. Not bad for a guy who stumbled upon his greatest creation. So, the next time you stick together a broken plate (and not your fingers), pause and thank Dr. Coover's serendipity.

36 comments:

freddieblue1 said...

will remember this next time i glue something

JUju said...

Sad when people die, but he did live a long time.

Roygbiv said...

wow, interesting article. followed and will check back for more++

Sean said...

He lived a good, full life at least, and inadvertently helped any of us in many ways.

Peanutzzz said...

I have to agree, A good full life. But if you ask me he can be glad he lasted that long, I probably wont xD

Trelin said...

Sounds like a good long life. Hopefully he didn't work more than he enjoyed.

Team Panda said...

well my hat goes off to him, i use super glue a lot (got a problem? glue it!!)

crazy coincidence, my aunt passed away today too.

Bramen said...

Super glue has gotten me out more sticky situations than I can recall. 1+ follow

Alphabeta said...

I read the title, and thought - so glad I'm not that guy.

Mike said...

Rest in peace ... Really fantastic invention. Must be odd being part of his generation, watching so many noteable pass

Cheers,

Mike

cool_cicler said...

wow, very interesting. Can you show more? Will follow more...

Zombie said...

Even superman couldnt tear super glue apart!

Jay.CA said...

RIP.

crustaa said...

this is exciting. good to know. sad for the loss we have suffered as the human race though.

Open Your Mind said...

Always sad when someone dies.

Following

Venus said...

very good post. hahaha loved the final sentence.

Major.Mack said...

he had a good run

Slamcakes said...

Guess he couldn't "stick" around forever!

Haha, I suck at puns

David said...

Wow, he really invented something useful. RIP.

Biff Tanner said...

Wow R.I.P

Adam said...

Wow, he accomplished a lot in his life. Makes me want to get up off the couch!

Chris said...

lol fascinating!

JaksonHunt said...

Now thats what i call a sticky situation

SirJohnBear said...

RIP Dr. Hoover. You have made my life, and the life of billions a whole lot easier.

MRanthrope said...

damn, loads of respect to this dude! R.I.P.

green computing said...

great post

Jacob said...

really wierd, i fixed my shoes just yesterday.

green computing said...

great post

psyke said...

The superglue will most likely outlive most of us.

2seat said...

super glue is a force too powerful for one living man to control.

TheMonopolyGuy said...

I remember reading this the other day

Pawawanpi said...

I love super glue

triade said...

sad thing

Alexis said...

At least he lived to 84. There are many people who don't get to live that long. :/

Jactating said...

I use his invention on a daily basis for all of my sculpting work! I am so grateful!!!!

Admin said...

I don't feel particularly sad about this, actually.