The Surprising Ways Military Technology Is Used in Real Life
When you think of the military, what pops to mind? Tanks, grenades and AR-15s? What about undershirts, duct tape and canned peas? Surprisingly, we have the military to thank for those creations, and much more.
They say that necessity is the mother of invention, and that certainly makes sense when it comes to the items on this list. Soldiers need the best technology possible — whether it's a weapon or a wristwatch. Here are just a few of the military inventions we now use in everyday life.
Many of us don't remember life before microwave ovens, but for our parents and grandparents, they were life-changing technology. Imagine wanting to heat up leftovers — but you have to turn on the oven, wait for it to pre-heat, and sit around until dinner is warm. Totally inconvenient!
Jet engines were being worked on as far back as the 1930s when inventor Frank Whittle filed the first official patent. The idea didn't take off until 1944 when the Germans took the world's first jet fighter (the Messerschmitt Me 262) to the skies at the peak of World War II.
Can you imagine life without a daily weather report? People joke about how often the forecast is wrong, but in reality, meteorologists accurately predict the weather about 80% of the time. Glance at your phone and you'll know what to expect, not just for today, but for the entire week ahead!
Keeping troops fed, of course, is vital to the success of any war — and around 1810, the French government offered a cash reward to anyone who could come up with a cheap way to preserve large quantities of food. While the initial product was made from glass, canned foods as we know them had taken over by World War I.
Next time you grab a pack of sanitary napkins off the supermarket shelf, know this: Benjamin Franklin invented them. However, he had no idea what his invention would end up being used for. He originally created pads to help wounded soldiers stop bleeding while they received medical treatment.
Remember when you had to actually read a paper map to figure out where you were going? Yeah, neither do we. We thank our lucky stars every single day that the nice lady in the phone can tell us how to get to the office or go to the mall.
Aerosol Bug Spray
If you're a fan of the great outdoors, you know that insects are a huge problem. Mosquitoes, ticks and other bugs are carriers of several dangerous — and often life-threatening — diseases, including malaria, dengue fever, lyme disease and rocky mountain spotted fever. Luckily, bug spray can keep you safe.
The Life-Saving EpiPen
Anyone following the recent price gouging controversy surrounding the EpiPen might be surprised to learn that the inventor never collected a penny in royalties. How is that possible? The original product (the ComboPen) was an auto-injector filled with nerve gas antidote — and it belonged to the U.S. military.
Blood Banks and Transfusions
If you've ever gone in for surgery and received donor blood, you have the military to thank. Since the dawn of time, soldiers have faced life-threatening conditions on the battlefield. Eventually, it became evident that they needed a way to provide dying men with donor blood rapidly.
The Space Program
The United States was the first country to put a man on the moon — and oddly, we have the Nazis to thank for it. During WWII, German scientists worked on creating long-range rockets. Post-war, the U.S. took those scientists back to the states and asked for their help.
Wristwatches — a Clock You Can Wear!
Smartphones mean that we have a world of information readily available, right at our fingertips: date, weather, maps and even news and entertainment. But it wasn't all that long ago that people couldn't tell the time if they didn't have a clock on the wall.
Digital Cameras You Can Use Anywhere
The history of the digital camera began in 1961 in NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. The technology was intended to take pictures of planets and stars while traveling through space to determine the astronaut's position. Soon, the cameras were being used in spy satellites to take aerial images of enemy installations.
Fix-All Duct Tape
Is there anything Duct Tape can't do? You can use it to fix a tent, patch a hose, and even remove splinters. There are a million other uses for Duct Tape because it's literally the one tool that can do it all.
Synthetic Rubber Tires
Did you know that the tires on your car today aren't real rubber? They're actually made out of a blend of materials, including synthetic rubber, natural rubber, fabric and wire, carbon black and a variety of other chemical substances. This wasn't the case, however, until around 1934.
Jetpacks for Everyone!
A jetpack is a wearable device (like a backpack) that allows the user to fly. They seem like something you'd see on The Jetsons or in a Sci-Fi movie. Despite our childhood dreams, they're more often used for movie stunts than anything in regular life.
Frozen Juice Concentrate
What's one thing soldiers say they miss when they're deployed? Fresh-squeezed orange juice. In 1943, the USDA and the Florida Citrus Commission remedied the situation by developing a frozen concentrate that could be sent overseas. The only problem? Orange juice that was frozen and then thawed would turn brown.
The term penicillin refers to a group of drugs that are used to fight bacteria in your body. They can treat many different maladies, such as ear infections, respiratory tract infections and scarlet fever. They do not treat viral infections, such as the flu.
These days, it's rare to be at any event and not see a drone. People use them to take videos and photos at concerts, fairs, sporting events, and more. It's even possible to buy toy drones for children (or children at heart) to play with at home.
Many a little kid has played soldier using a toy walkie-talkies to communicate with friends. Those little kids aren't too far off when they play their games — the first walkie talkies were used for communication between soldiers.
The process of freeze-drying goes back to the 15th century when the Incas used a rudimentary method to store and preserve their crops. Modern techniques, however, were developed during World War II, when blood serum was freeze-dried for safe transport, allowing for treatment of the wounded.
Superglue to Repair Anything
If you've ever stuck your fingers together using superglue, you know how strong it is. Today, the product is available under a variety of brand names, and it's the go-to tool when other adhesives won't work. It's recommended for glass, leather, ceramics, metal, wood and certain plastics — pretty much everything but your fingers.
Always-Cool Aviator Sunglasses
Today, aviator sunglasses are associated more with the movie Top Gun than they are with the military — but Tom Cruise was not, in fact, the first one to rock them. Aviator sunglasses go way back to the 1930s when military pilots used them to protect their eyes while flying.
Ambulance Medical Transport
Finally, a military invention that DOESN'T come from World War II! This one goes all the way back to 1487. It was during the late 15th century that ambulances first appeared on the battlefield, used by the Spanish army during the War of Naples.
Night Vision Cameras
Today, you can buy a night vision camera or a pair of night vision binoculars in any sporting goods store. Heck, your phone probably has a night vision camera — and even your car might have this game-changing technology. This is yet another invention that was developed out of necessity during World War II.
People have been wearing undergarments for thousands of years. The first iteration was probably the loincloth, but since then, unders have taken on different forms. Unfortunately, for much of history, undergarments were made out of scratchy, uncomfortable wool. That all changed in 1905.
Convenient Instant Coffee
Instant coffee is not an invention of the military per se, but the armed forces did help to make it as popular as it is today. Instant coffee was first mass-produced in the United States in 1910. It's fair to say that consumers did not like it — in fact, it was a total bomb.
Until about 100 years ago, shaving was a dangerous business. Why? Because trimming your stubble required the use of a straight razor — commonly known as the "cut-throat" razor. It wasn't just a clever nickname: One false move could spell certain disaster.
Silly Putty was all the rage in the 1950s. The product, packaged in small plastic eggs, is a small piece of putty with some very unusual properties: It can bounce, stretch, and float. More importantly, it can be used to copy the print out of newspapers.
Looking at today's computers, you would never know that they started as gigantic machines that used punch cards and mechanical looms to solve problems. We've come a long way since then. But where did those first computers come from?
It should only stand to reason that since the military invented the modern computer, they also created the Internet. The World Wide Web as we know it initially started back in 1977 in the form of the Advanced Research Projects Agency Network (ARPANET). The project was funded by an arm of the U.S. Defense Department.