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December 29th is the birthday of the man who discovered the process to vulcanize rubber. Charles Goodyear spent several years trying to find a method to convert rubber into a substance that would not turn brittle in the cold or turn to goo in the heat. His early attempts found rubber that would rot after time or still turn sticky in heat. He ultimately found the answer by accident. He spilled a mixture of rubber mixed with sulfur on a hot stove and cured the rubber into a solid mass.

After he patented his process, he started a small company to find uses for his rubber. Unfortunately, he spent most of his efforts on defending his patents and in lawsuits and his business failed. The Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company had nothing to do with Charles Goodyear and was formed 38 years after his death in 1860.

Find out what else occurred on this day in science history.

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