Skip to main content

For Find Out Fridays! Week 4- The Birth of the Home Pregnancy Test



I consider myself a pretty creative person. I am a writer, photographer, researcher, party planner, and travel agent, just to name a few of my unofficial titles. This is why I am always so busy in my personal life. There is always something to plan to do, accomplish and share. Never mind all of my family and friends who take advantage, I mean need my services. If I ever started charging them I would become a millionaire in an instant. So if I know you and you have received some of this special treatment from me without receiving an invoice count yourself lucky. Despite my talents I do not think i could ever be an inventor. 

During the normal course of my week I was reading my New York Times and Cosmopolitan magazine. I was stunned to find two articles about Margaret Crane, an inventor who has not gotten nearly enough attention. Her invention as you can see from the title was the home pregnancy test. It is now a $40 million industry but without Ms. Crane there would be no such pie to divide up. Her idea happened matter-of-factly one day in a “flash of genius” moment.

The term “flash of genius” has been imprinted within my mind since I saw the movie by the same name in 2008. It tells the lifelong story of Robert Williams Kearns and his struggle against Ford Motor Company and subsequently Chrysler Corporation for his idea and creation of the intermittent windshield wiper systems used on most automobiles from 1969 on. When he presented it to them originally he was of course denied the usefulness to his face but then the companies turned around and starting installing them without paying him so much as a nickel. His idea had already been patented some years earlier thus to court they went. It was the law then that said a true inventor has a “flash of genius” moment.

This is Robert Kearns story:

“The inspiration for his invention stems from an incident on his wedding night in 1953, when an errant champagne cork shot into his left eye, leaving him legally blind in that eye. Nearly a decade later in 1963, Kearns was driving his Ford Galaxie through a light rain, and the constant movement of the wiper blades irritated his already troubled vision. He modeled his mechanism on the human eye, which blinks every few seconds, rather than continuously.”

The basis of the judgment, which ultimately was a thirty million dollar settlement, had many consequences such as his wife divorcing him, distant relationships with his children, and spending his life as his own attorney. He spent about ten million dollars in legal fees. But a principal is a principal.

When I read the stories of Ms. Crane (how she was referred to in the articles) it made me think of Robert Kearns and his “flash of genius” moment. While her story is a lot less dramatic she was still struck with a flash after seeing how doctor’s processed pregnancy tests in a lab and thinking of how much easier it would be if a woman could learn about her own body in her own surroundings without a man (doctor) telling you, which was the normal in those years.

Ms. Crane’s process went like this:

“Inside a clear plastic box that had been holding paper clips on her desk, Ms. Crane fitted an eyedropper, along with a test tube that sat just above a mirror. The customer would squeeze a few drops of urine into the tube, and then peer through the transparent wall of the box at the mirror. In its reflection, she could watch the bottom of the test tube, where a compound was reacting with the drops. If, in two hours, a red circle appeared, she was pregnant.”

Her invention was created in 1967 but didn’t go on sale to the public until ten years later, in 1977. There was fear of doctor’s losing business or that women were too stupid a.k.a. emotional to understand how to use the tests.

Long story short Ms. Crane bursted into a meeting her bosses were having about a home pregnancy prototype (naturally without notifying her) and she stuck her version on the table to be considered. Clearly it was her idea that stole the show.  To show her generosity she sold her patent for one dollar, which she apparently never received. Figures. Robert Kearns would not be pleased.

My favorite part is that prior to being an inventor Ms. Crane was an artist, not someone who had a medical profession. After though she moved on and in with one of her bosses and they went on to have a lifelong romance working together as advertising executives.

Without Ms. Crane’s invention there would not be the many home testing kits I see every time I am at the pharmacy. I can’t believe what I see, like the home test for cocaine, which definitely took me by surprise. But I guess if you have a need there should be a supply. The HIV home test kits were invented back in the 1980’s although stigma and fear of what the reaction would be, held them back from being sold in stores until 2012.  I guess no one is safe to learn about themselves by themselves.

But by now shouldn’t we as humans be able to accept that we are built to deal with complex emotions? I guess we are a society of slow learners.

During this week I found out about a series on YouTube called “It’s Ok To Be Smart”. I think it is a genius idea. This bright young Ph.D tackles a wide range of topics explaining how they came to be. This week it was about salt and pepper and how that combination came to be a staple in all of our homes and restaurants.

Watch the video below to find out more about their connection:


It just goes to show you that anyone is capable of anything.

I am glad that this series is doing what I hoped it would, educating us about why we do the rituals that are apart of our everyday life.

Next Friday I hope to answer the burning questions from your lives.


For More Information:















Comments

Popular posts from this blog

For Find Out Friday - Why Do Emery Boards Make My Skin Crawl?

You know that sound a fingernail makes when it scratches against a chalkboard?  You know that feeling the sound of that action gives you? I, like most people, hate that sound.  I instantly feel like scrunching my shoulders up to my neck and closing my eyes.  I feel the exact same way when I am using an emery board to file my nails. This annoying sensation has a name: “grima” which is Spanish for disgust or uneasiness. This term basically describes any feeling of being displeased, annoyed, or dissatisfied someone or something.  It is a feeling that psychologists are starting to pay more attention to as it relates to our other emotions.  Emery boards are traditionally made with cardboard that has small grains of sand adhered to them. It is the sandpaper that I believe makes me filled with grima.  According to studies that are being done around the world, it is not just the feeling that we associate with certain things like nails on a chalkboard or by using emery boards

For the Perfect Appetizer Dinner: “Morgan’s Brooklyn Barbecue”

Have you ever gone out to eat and wished that you just ordered a bunch of appetizers?  I have.  It is actually my preferred way to eat. I like to get a taste of a bunch of different things rather than one big plate. I am much more interested in the kinds of foods we eat as appetizers versus lunch or dinner. Desserts hardly ever register on my radar. At the beginning of this year, right before I was set to release my annual to do list , I stumbled upon a photo of the most beautiful plate of brisket nachos I have ever seen. I instantly wanted them. Naturally the establishment behind said nachos, Morgans Brooklyn Barbecue, earned a spot on my list. The week leading up to my visit all I could think about was “would those nachos be my entire meal or just my appetizer”? Sure I love all kinds of barbecue food: the ribs, the brisket, pulled pork, and don’t even get me started on those sides!! Any restaurant that serves mac and cheese, corn bread, and creamed spinach us

For Find Out Friday - How Do You Milk An Almond?

Despite my affinity for cheese and other dairy products, occasionally (actually a few times a week) I like to go dairy-free.  During those times I rely heavily on my favorite brand of almond milk, as seen in the picture above.  Though I know there is no dairy in this product, I constantly wonder: “how does one milk an almond”? Logically I am aware that no actually “milking” is taking place.  I also know that almond milk can be made at home, although I have zero interest in attempting to make it despite my love of spending time in my kitchen. So, what is the actual process?  How long does it take?  When / where / who was the first to successful develop this product? When talking about this kind of “milk” what we are really talking about is plant juices that resemble and can be used in the same ways as dairy milk. Plant like juice has been described as milk since about 1200 A.D. The first mentions can be found in a Baghdadi cookbook in the thirteenth