George Washington Carver represents one of the most brilliant minds that the United States has ever produced. He invented hundreds of different applications for the lowly peanut. His inventions, which were largely imagined and produced during the first half of the 20th century, have altered the modern world in dozens of ways. Most of these inventions were conceived of at Carvers humble lab at Tuskegee University (Kremer 12). Among George Washington Carvers various inventions, the most famous ones are all peanut-related.
He invented plastics, oils, industrial lubricants, and a multitudinous array of other varied products that were all created by use of the peanut (Carver 3). One invention that many believe to have been Carvers, however, is not. This is so conspicuous because of the fact that it is also probably the most famous peanut product in contemporary America: peanut butter. Although Carver did not directly invent peanut butter, the man who did drew directly from Carvers research in order to create the new foodstuff (Mackintosh 67).
Similarly, it is odd that one of Carvers most significant contributions to science is hardly known of. He was, in fact, one of the chief pioneers of the process of vulcanization, which allowed for the manufacture of modern rubber and synthetic plastics with greater flexibility. Vulcanization was an integral part of what allowed automobiles to gain dominance as a form of transportation in the United States. Actually, Henry Ford met with Carver on many occasions to seek his advice and regularly sought to lure him away from his research with promises of financial rewards.
Carver always humbly declined such offers (Black Leonardo 82). Interestingly enough, Carvers inventions affect our lives today just as much as they affected the lives of those living during his lifetime. Imagine American culture today, for instance, without the peanut. Likewise, during his own lifetime, the introduction of the peanut as a successful cash crop allowed the southern United States to recover from the terrible plight created by the pest the boll weevil.
In the same way, Carver introduced many high protein, nutritious, calorie-dense foods that helped many people in both his own era and in contemporary ones as well (McMurry 7). He was, in the end, a man of singular talent and brilliance. His abilities in the world of botany were on the scale of an Einstein in physics, and it is hard to imagine what George Washington Carver might have accomplished in a life lived today. Imagine if hed had access to modern laboratory equipment, scientific knowledge, and international research sharing.
He might have been able to do things that we cant even begin to fathom (Black Leonardo 81). Of course, the other unique element of Carvers brilliance, and one which he shares with many other geniuses, is that his field of study consumed him utterly. Carver was a man who more than once drew the parallel analogy of his being married to his work (McMurry 57). In a very real sense, he was. It was all he cared about, and was, more than children ever probably could have been, his enduring legacy to the world.
Works Cited: McMurry, L. O. 1981.George Washington Carver: Scientist and Symbol. New York, Oxford University Press. Mackintosh, Barry. 1977. George Washington Carver and the Peanut: New Light on a Much-loved Myth. American Heritage 28(5): 66-73. Carver, George Washington. 1916. How to Grow the Peanut and 105 Ways of Preparing it for Human Consumption. Tuskegee Institute Experimental Station Bulletin 31. Kremer, Gary R. (editor). 1987. George Washington Carver in His Own Words. Columbia, Missouri. : University of Missouri Press. Anon. Nov. 24, 1941 Black Leonardo Time 38(21): 81-82.