Inventions are driven by the needs of the time. In 1915, the world was at war, and several wartime events led to the invention of products such as gas masks, tanks and early uses of sonar. Other inventions, such as Pyrex glass, were more useful in the home than on the front lines.
In April 1915, World War I was in full swing, and the modern weapons of the day were being tried out. Germany tested poisonous chlorine gas against the Allies in Ypres, Belgium. Not long after, the Germans began using phosgene against British and French troops. Indiana scientist James Bert Garner discovered that charcoal used in a gas mask would filter out any noxious fumes from the German army. Garner's invention was tested by the Allies and adopted. By the time the United States entered the war in 1917, gas masks were standard issue to the military.
The origins of a tank's structure began in the 1770s when Richard Edgeworth invented the caterpillar track that has become recognizable as a tank's base. Tank development was not used in warfare until the late 1800s when the internal combustion engine made it possible to build an armored motorized vehicle. During World War I, Winston Churchill appointed the Landship Committee to work on an armored vehicle. In 1915, Richard Hornsby & Sons successfully tested the Killen-Strait Armoured Tractor for Churchill; it was able to roll over rough terrain and barbed wire without stopping. This was a major milestone in tank design.
During World War I, German submarines were able to attack ships from below. The Allies' military forces were searching for a way to detect submarines using radar and sonar. In 1915, French physicist Paul Langevin developed an invention that used sonar signals to detect submerged submarines by listening to returning signals.
Not all inventions from 1915 were war-related. The Pyrex glassware brand was first introduced in 1915. It was developed when the wife of a scientist from Corning Glass Works needed a more reliable casserole dish. She suggested her husband make a baking dish from the high-endurance glass used for railroad signals. The result was a strong brand of glass that could stand high temperature changes, making it ideal for cooking.
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