29 December: Charles Goodyear was born on this day in 1800

The jazz musician Gil Evans used to say that all art should be an experiment, and that masterpieces were successful experiments. In 1839 Charles Goodyear accidentally dropped some India rubber (compounded with sulphur) onto a hot stove and discovered that this caused the rubber to vulcanize.

After that moment, transport would never be the same again, although Goodyear’s own life did not roll along quite as smoothly: much fighting ensued over his patents and he even landed in prison in Paris on account of the heavy debts resulting thereof.

Art was our starting point because rubber tyres have always been able to conjure up interesting scenarios: just try counting the number of novels, books or films that have been inspired by motorbikes (to limit ourselves to two-wheelers). Small masterpieces, some of them, the result of a very successful experiment indeed.

Name Day
St Thomas Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury