8 Women You Had No Idea Saved Your Ass


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Who needs superheroes when you have these ladies?

1. Anna
Connelly

Anna Connelly

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Getty Images / Google

Fire escapes in pop culture are usually shown
as an easy spot for a smoke break, a balcony
for peasants, or
a convenient spot for a clandestine romantic
tryst, but fire escapes are actual
life-savers, y’all. Before Connelly submitted
her
patent for one — aka the first registered
patent for a fire escape — in 1887, a fire
inside a building was a death trap. And as US
cities filled up with crowded tenements, this
was a big problem. Connelly’s idea was to build

metal bridges between buildings so that
residents could easily escape to a safe spot
without risking their lives by potentially
walking down into flames. The ones we know
today look a little different, but without
Connelly’s patent, fire safety might’ve taken a
lot longer to catch on.

ID: 10655357

2. Maria
Beasley

Maria Beasley

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Google / John-borda / Getty Images

Don’t tell Jack and Rose, but Beasley filed a
patent for the first modern life raft, a

foldable, fire-proof, floating device with
protective guardrails, in
1882 — the exact kind that was used to
shuttle most women and children to safety
during the sinking of the Titanic 30 years
later. Before then, life rafts looked a lot
more like the wooden door that Rose lazed about
on, and most people didn’t fare too well.

ID: 10634814

3.
Letitia Geer

Letitia Geer

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A syringes, which delivers life-saving vaccines
and fluids, is a relatively simple machine that
took a surprisingly long time to
perfect. For centuries, a doctor or nurse (or
whoever wanted to stab stuff with a needle) had
to use both hands to operate a syringe, which
wasn’t terribly convenient. Geer patented a
nifty model in
1889 that only required the use of one
hand, just like the ones we use today. And for
people who regularly have to inject themselves
with syringes, like diabetics, this is a
necessary feature indeed.

ID: 10635105

4. Mary
Anderson

Mary Anderson

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You know how annoying — not to mention
terrifying — it gets when windshield wipers get
all squeaky and stop doing their job during a
bad rainstorm? Well before Anderson, people
didn’t even have shitty windshield wipers to
save their asses when the clouds opened up!
Anderson came up with an idea for a
window-cleaning device in 1902 after
an alarming trolley ride in New York City
sleet. She patented
her idea, the first effective way to keep
windshields clean for safe driving, but she was
ahead of her time — windshields were optional
(!) in those days, and her idea was rejected by
manufacturers. Several men later rode on her
coattails by creating similar, more successful,
wipers, and early advertisements declared them
to be the safety measure she knew they could
be: “A Clear Sight Ahead Prevents Accidents. An
Undimmed Vision Makes It Easier to Drive.”
Thanks for trying to save our asses, Mary.

ID: 10634793

5.
Katharine Burr Blodgett

Katharine Burr Blodgett

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Speaking of windshields: Blodgett’s invention
of “invisible” glass in 1940 paved the way for
the crystal-clear ones all cars have today.
Blodgett was
an engineer and scientist at GE — and the
first woman to have a Ph.D. in physics from
Cambridge, NBD — when she discovered how to
make low-reflectance glass. Not only was it the
perfect thing to use in windshields, it also
became the go-to material for eyeglasses. So
the next time you put on your glasses and
don’t, y’know, plummet to your death in an open
manhole cover you wouldn’t have seen, give a
little thumbs up for Blodgett, your savior.

ID: 10635025

6.
Stephanie Kwolek

Stephanie Kwolek

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Kevlar, the super strong and stiff fiber that

Kwolek invented while working at DuPont in
1965, kind of sounds like the name of a
superhero — and that’s because it basically is
one. The synthetic fiber is so resilient that
it can
literally stop a steel bullet, and it’s now
used in bulletproof vests, helmets, and
protective gloves. Come to think of it, Kwolek
is the real superhero here. Sorry, Kevlar.

ID: 10634901

7. Marie
Van Brittan Brown

Marie Van Brittan Brown

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Google / Getty Images

Think of Brown as your guardian angel every
time you have peace of mind knowing you have a
home security system. Brown, along with her
husband,
invented a camera-based system in 1966 that
let them see who was at the door and set off an
alarm or notify a security company if the
visitor looked dangerous. They got a patent for
their life-saving device in
1969, and it became the forerunner of CCTV
and contemporary high-tech home security
systems.

ID: 10634959

8.
Flossie Wong-Staal

Flossie Wong-Staal

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National Cancer Institute/Bill Branson

The vital HIV tests we take today are the
result of Wong-Staal’s tireless research into
HIV and AIDS. In 1983, Wong-Staal, along with
her team, was
the first person to link HIV as the cause of
AIDS, a crucial step in understanding the
then-mysterious disease. From there, she cloned
and genetically mapped the virus, which allowed
for research and, later, the development of a
“molecular knife” that repressed HIV in stem
cells.

ID: 10635057

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