History's Greatest Inventors

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Have you ever felt like you could really use something that just doesn't yet exist? That kind of thinking (and plenty of accidental brushes with luck) has lead to many of history's greatest inventions. Most of the world's most monumental inventions arose out of a simple, everyday situation, a bit of brainstorming, and a lot of experimental failures.

Today's inventions inventions range from those shown on late-night infomercials to those in Silicon Valley tech startups. (Yet even modern creators would be hard-pressed to do much inventing without a lightbulb to work under.) Learn the stories of history's most significant innovators, and take notes. Lots of notes.

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Key Facts In This Video

  1. Categorically, zero is an even number. 01:19

  2. In Florence during the Crusades, the use of the number zero was banned because it was thought to be connected to the devil. 02:28

  3. Instead of using a symbol for zero, Babylonians would insert a space. 05:01

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Key Facts In This Video

  1. Leonardo da Vinci was born out of wedlock to a notary and a peasant woman, and didn't receive much of a formal education as a child. 01:27

  2. Da Vinci's "Codex on the Flight of Birds" contains more than 35,000 words and 500 sketches, including those of his famous flying machine designs. 03:40

  3. Leonardo da Vinci dissected more than 30 human corpses to make his drawings and observations on anatomy. 06:19

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Key Facts In This Video

  1. Marie Curie coined the term radioactivity, and was the first person to win two Nobel Prizes in different disciplines. 00:40

  2. Marie Curie made the groundbreaking observation that radioactivity came from atoms themselves, and not from molecular interaction. 04:31

  3. During World War I, Marie Curie drove a portable x-ray machine to assist wounded soldiers. 07:55

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Key Facts In This Video

  1. Tesla had more than 700 patents under his belt when he died. 00:37

  2. Wireless transmission became a concept Tesla was fixated on. 05:41

  3. J.P. Morgan once commissioned Tesla to build a power plant. 06:23

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Key Facts In This Video

  1. Tesla created the first remote control in 1898, though it was deemed largely useless at the time. 00:23

  2. Nikola Tesla died in poverty at the age of 86. 01:35

  3. After secret U.S. military tests of Tesla's death-beam weapon during WWII, Tesla's papers disappeared without a trace. 02:20

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