This week’s open threads have focused on the lesser known inventors and scientists in the black community.
Dr. Meredith Gourdine was born in Newark New Jersey on September 26, 1929, and grew up in the streets of Harlem and Brooklyn. Meredith Gourdine attended Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, and received a Ph.D. in Engineering Science from the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena.
Meredith Gourdine pioneered the research of electrogasdynamics. Electrogasdynamics is a way to disperse fog and smoke. By applying strong electrical forces to either you can control those elements. He was responsible for the engineering technique termed Incineraid for aiding in the removal of smoke from buildings. His work on gas dispersion developed techniques for dispersing fog from airport runways. Meredith Gourdine also created a generator that allowed for the cheaper transmission of electricity. He held more than 40 patents for various inventions.
Meredith Gourdine built a multi-million dollar corporation that is based on his ideas in the field of electrogasdynamics (EGD). Using the principles of EGD, Meredith Gourdine successfully converted natural gas to electricity for everyday use. Applications of EGD include refrigeration, desalination of sea water, and reducing the pollutants in smoke.
Meredith Gourdine served on the technical staff of the Ramo-Woolridge Corporation from 1957-58. He then became a Senior Research Scientist at the Caltech Jet Propulsion Laboratory from 1958-60. He became a Lab Director of the Plasmodyne Corporation from 1960-62 and Chief Scientist of the Curtiss-Wright Corporation from 1962 to 1964. In 1964, he served on the President’s Panel on Energy.
Meredith Gourdine established a research laboratory, Gourdine Laboratories, in Livingston, New Jersey, with a staff of over 150.
As an interesting side note, Meredith Gourdine won the silver medal in the 1952 Olympics in Helsinki for the long jump. Meredith Gourdine was also blind.
An employee of Madame Walker’s empire, Majorie Joyner, invented a permanent wave machine. This device, patented in 1928, curled or “permed” women’s hair for a relatively lengthy period of time. The wave machine was popular among women white and black allowing for longer-lasting wavy hair styles. Marjorie Joyner went on to become a prominent figure in Walker’s industry, though Majorie Joyner never profited directly from her invention, for it was the assigned property of the Walker Company.
Marjorie Joyner was born in 1896 in the rural Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia and moved to Chicago to study cosmetology. Madam Walker was a Chicago business women who had come to fame as the beauty product supplier to Hollywood star Josephine Baker. Marjorie Stewart Joyner invented her wave machine as a solution to the hair problems of African American women, however, she never profited form her invention. Madame Walker owned the rights.
Marjorie Joyner became thee Director of Madame Walker’s beauty schools. Together with Mary Bethune Mcleod, Majorie Joyner founded the United Beauty School Owners and Teachers Association in 1945.
Marjorie Joyner also volunteered for several charities that helped house, educate, and find work for African Americans during the Great Depression.
***Information courtesy of About.com***