Everyday Innovations

Have you ever wondered how black lights, or mirrors work? This collection of articles will explain the workings of some of the most common inventions and innovations you come into contact with everyday.

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Who invented the toilet? While we wish it were so, it wasn't Thomas Crapper. Surprisingly, toilet design hasn't changed much since the first "water closet" patent in the 1500s.

By Kathryn Whitbourne & Jesslyn Shields

You can find porta-potties at festivals, construction sites and concerts across the planet – but how do they work? Get a closer (non-messy) look here.

When you think of sports drinks, chances are Gatorade comes to mind. But was it the first one? Or just the beneficiary of clever marketing?

By Becky Striepe

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Behold the humble spork! Made of the cheapest plastic and seen mostly at public school cafeterias and fast food chains, it doesn't have an inspiring pedigree. But it's been around for a long time.

By Laurie L. Dove

Next Thanksgiving when you find yourself sleeping on Aunt Martha's pullout sofa, it might cheer you up to know that the convertible bed has a long, illustrious history.

By Laurie L. Dove

It's one of those age-old dilemmas – who goes through the revolving door first. It probably doesn't matter. Rumor has it that the inventor didn't want to hold a door open for anyone.

By Laurie L. Dove

If you don’t know what tinnovation is, prepare to be amazed. These photos feature neat hacks that turn mere Altoid tins into utility items and art.

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Better than buttons? Maybe. Less time-consuming than laces? Definitely. As far as fastening mechanisms go, the zipper is a work of art. Learn exactly what makes up a zipper and how it all fits together so perfectly.

By Tom Harris

Researchers are constantly developing fabrics that can help keep you cool, whether you're working out or trying to get a good night's sleep. But how do they work, and which are the best ones?

By Carrie Whitney, Ph.D.

On July 2, 2001, heart failure patients gained new hope, as surgeons performed the first artificial heart transplant in nearly two decades. The AbioCor Implantable Replacement Heart is the first completely self-contained artificial heart and is expected to at least double the life expectancy of patients.

By Kevin Bonsor

You see light sticks everywhere during the holidays – especially Halloween. Have you ever wondered why these cool light sources glow? What's happening when you crack one? Take a look inside a light stick.

By Tom Harris

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They dispense everything from hairspray to cleaning products to whipped cream. Without them, you'd be doing a whole lot of pumping.

By Tom Harris

Before digital cameras, you needed instant film to get instant pictures. With instant-film photography, you can watch the image slowly come together in a matter of minutes. While it seems like magic, the process relies on elements of science. Find ou

By Tom Harris

Black lights look like normal lights, but they do something completely different. Switch one on, and fingernails, laundry detergent, highlighters, money and teeth will glow in the dark. Find out what why.

By Tom Harris

Whether you're hitting the surf or the slopes or just spending a day on the lake, sunglasses are a must-have accessory. Find out if the $10 sunglasses are as good as the high-cost ones.

By Jeff Tyson

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Pet microchips are supposed to ensure recovery of your lost animal. But these chips have received as much opposition as they have praise. Find out when the devices work and when they fail.

By Jane McGrath

Right now, you may be sitting on a chair or walking on a rug made of some type of fabric. Hopefully, you're wearing fabric in the form of clothes! But fabric is easily damaged. So what if there were a super fabric out there that stayed intact?

By Jessika Toothman

For such a pedestrian item, mirrors resonate deeply in the human psyche. They represent truth and illusion at the same time, and this dichotomy has shown up in literature time and again.

By Gallagher Flinn

A burn injury is one of the most devastating things a body can endure, and until recently, a serious third-degree burn meant certain death. Skin grown in a lab (yes, you read that right) improves the odds.

By Molly Edmonds

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Breastfeeding is a healthy way to feed young children, but busy schedules and other factors may keep mom from being available when baby's hungry. Breast pumps can help bridge that gap.

By Melanie Winderlich

Ice sculptures can range from small tabletop pieces to entire buildings. In this fundamentally temporary medium, art and engineering combine to form sparkling, breathtaking effects.

By Nathan Chandler

They're instantly recognizable — mostly for their color. We're talking about yellow legal pads. So who decided they'd be yellow, anyway?

By Meg Sparwath

You want to make a potato powered light bulb, but you're not sure how to do it. Learn about how to make a potato powered light bulb in this article.

By HowStuffWorks.com Contributors

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You want to make a battery powered light bulb, but you're not sure how to do it. Learn about how to make a battery powered light bulb in this article.

Paper airplanes are much more than child's play.

By Laurie L. Dove