Friday, Jul 08, 2011
by Ned Wazowski
Well, the days are longer, Margie’s obsessing about the temperature, and we’re packing for Comic-Con – so it must be summer!
From tiny squirt pistols to water balloon bandoliers, nothing kicks off summer like a good water fight. But for such a universally simple premise – soak your adversaries before they soak you – there’s a surprisingly complex history behind the armaments.
After a cupped hand full of water, a water balloon is maybe
the most basic weapon in water combat.
Simply fill an empty balloon with water and toss. Repeat as necessary.
So can you believe that there’s an inventor responsible for it? And in fact, the creator of the water balloon, one Edgar Ellington of England, wasn’t even aiming, so-to-speak, at summertime fun. He was trying to develop a waterproof sock to prevent Trench Foot. When that didn’t work, he discovered a more enjoyable pastime by literally throwing out his work. (Though to be fair, anything is more enjoyable than Trench Foot.)
For most of their history, water guns functioned on some
basic plumbing principles, though resulting in a fairly limited range of
fire. But all that changed when nuclear
scientist Dr. Lonnie Johnson – a NASA nuclear scientist, no less – working on a
new heat-pump system, developed a water gun that built up water pressure by
pumping air into the reservoir. His
design, later called the Super Soaker, revolutionized water fights.
So the next time the temperature climbs into the scorch-zone (and Margie will let you know over and over when it does), arm yourself with some water weaponry and thank a scientist for your summertime fun.
This giclée of the 1986 Roger Believe cover of First Flight (Primo Volo) is part...