The story of Thomas Midgley
Type of Spiritual Experience
Thomas Midgley Jr. (May 18, 1889 – November 2, 1944) was an American mechanical and chemical engineer. He played a major role in developing leaded gasoline (Tetraethyllead) and some of the first chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), better known by its brand name Freon.............
In 1941, the American Chemical Society gave Midgley its highest award, the Priestley Medal. This was followed by the Willard Gibbs Award in 1942. He also held two honorary degrees and was elected to the United States National Academy of Sciences. In 1944, he was elected president and chairman of the American Chemical Society.
Midgley's legacy [is] the negative environmental impact of leaded gasoline and Freon. Environmental historian J. R. McNeill opined that Midgley "had more impact on the atmosphere than any other single organism in Earth's history", and Bill Bryson remarked that Midgley possessed "an instinct for the regrettable that was almost uncanny". Use of leaded gasoline, which he invented, released large quantities of lead into the atmosphere all over the world. High atmospheric lead levels have been linked with serious long-term health problems from childhood, including neurological impairment, and with increased levels of violence and criminality in cities. Time magazine included both leaded gasoline and CFCs on its list of "The 50 Worst Inventions".
Midgley died three decades before the ozone-depleting and greenhouse gas effects of CFCs in the atmosphere became widely known. In 1987, the Montreal Protocol phased out the use of CFCs like Freon
In 1940, at the age of 51, Midgley contracted 'poliomyelitis', which left him severely disabled. He devised an elaborate system of ropes and pulleys to lift himself out of bed. In 1944, he was entangled in the device and died of strangulation
A description of the experience
from a website on leaded petrol and its history
Thomas Midgley, Jr. was responsible for lead being added to petrol as well as the commercial use of CFCs. Environmental historian J.R. McNeil has stated that Midgley had the greatest negative impact on the environment than any other single organism in world history.
For example in 1923, Midgley took a prolonged vacation to cure himself of lead poisoning resulting from his work with leaded petrol.
He said "After about a year's work in organic lead, I find that my lungs have been affected and that it is necessary to drop all work and get a large supply of fresh air."
Despite this, when Midgley became vice president of the General Motors Chemical Company (GMCC) and after over 20 deaths and several cases of lead poisoning at the various plants causing hallucinations and insanity, Midgley participated in a press conference to demonstrate the apparent safety of TEL.
In this demonstration, he poured TEL over his hands, then placed a bottle of the chemical under his nose and inhaled its vapor for sixty seconds, declaring that he could do this every day without succumbing to any problems whatsoever.
The source of the experienceScientist other
Concepts, symbols and science items
Activities and commonsteps
OverloadsInhaling volatiles and gases