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How super glue was invented | Moments of Vision 8

In a Moment of Vision… It’s the 1940s, the height of World War II, Rochester, New York. A chemist by the name of Harry Coover is conducting research for Eastman Kodak. He and his team are looking for a clear plastic to produce precision gunsights for the military. They begin working with a family of chemicals called cyanoacrylates, but find, to their extreme annoyance, that the chemicals stick to everything permanently.

The cyanoacrylates are discarded. After the war, Coover is working at Kodak’s chemical plant in Tennessee. This time, he and his team are researching heat-resistant polymers for jet airplane canopies. They try cyanoacrylates, but find, to their great frustration, that the chemicals stick to everything permanently.

Again, the cyanoacrylates are discarded. Coover, however, in a moment of vision, realizes that the quality that makes these chemicals so infuriating to work with is exactly what makes them valuable. He takes out a patent and begins marketing a super glue. Years later during the Vietnam War, field medics find that using super glue on an open wound instantly stops the bleeding, saving countless lives. Today, medical grade super glue is still used in surgery, but it’s also a nearly indispensable household item.

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