MySci Round-Up, September 8: I can see clearly now–through Scotch tape, that is

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On this day in 1930, 3M unveiled a new invention that would have a pervasive effect on American culture—a roll of clear adhesive film that has come to be known by the seminal brand, Scotch tape. Its inventor, chemical engineer 
Richard G. Drew, who worked for 3M in St. Paul, MN, reportedly was working on a waterproof covering for parts on refrigerator cars, when he learned that a colleague was proposing that 3M package its adhesive masking tape product in clear cellophane, a material recently developed by DuPont. Drew got a brainstorm. Why not make tape itself out of cellophane? As this article on Drew from explains, it turned out to be a lot tougher trick than he probably expected, because applying adhesive evenly on the material was difficult, and it split easy during the machine coating process. Drew had to spend an entire year overcoming these shortcomings, but in the end, he solved the adhesive spreading problem by applying a primer to the tape, and invented a special machine that would handle cellophane without splitting it. He also developed a new, virtually colorless adhesive, which made the product appear virtually invisible to the unaided eye, if took off your glasses and stood far enough away. Originally marketed as Scotch Cellulose Tape, the product was an immediate hit during the Great Depression, in part because it enabled people strapped for cash to mend household items without looking too shabby. It was also easier to apply and nicer looking on packages than string, and was less likely to come undone. The product’s only shortcoming was its own packaging on rolls, which were difficult to cut and peel. Two years later, 3M came out with the first desktop tape dispenser, a cast-iron behemoth that weighed in at seven pounds. It wasn’t until 1940 that the company came out with its iconic lightweight plastic “snail” dispenser, which eventually became a ubiquitous item in American households. 

Besides all the practical applications for Scotch tape, from repairing paperback books and removing tiny flecks of lint to sealing cracks in turkey eggs, more playful consumers found a myriad of offbeat and bizarre uses for it as well, as this article from details. Our favorite is the life-size layered Scotch tape sculpture of a human figure, but using it to attach a harmonica to a squirrel is pretty clever, too. Stranger still: in the 1950s, Soviet scientists discovered that peeling Scotch tape off a roll in a vacuum could produce X-rays. And with that revelation, here are the science stories of the day.

Google unveils “Instant Search” technology. Since nobody has the 10 seconds or so required to type a search term anymore, a new algorithmic wrinkle will suggest a raft of choices with each letter that you type. If life were a Philip K. Dick novel, of course, the company would be unveiling new “precog” technology, which would tell us what we’re looking for, before we think of it. 

Researchers use brain imaging to monitor impact of movie special effects. As it turns out, some well-known directors are markedly better than others in causing the same neurological reactions in audience members. Weird.

Do coffee and cigarettes help you to reduce chances of developing Parkinson’s disease? A new study suggests so. Boy, Jim Jarmusch, director of the 2003 movie “Coffee and Cigarettes,” is going to be happy.

“Quasimodo” humpback dinosaur remains discovered in Spain. It didn’t climb up into bell towers, though.

Study shows testosterone can be hindrance in corporate deal making. Researchers found that youthful business moguls, who have more of the hormone in their bloodstreams, are more likely to say no to potentially lucrative merger and acquisition proposals. We’re wondering if that will be Shia LaBeouf’s undoing in the upcoming sequel to Wall Street.