Thomas Midgley – A Dangerous Mind


Episode Transcription

Made by robots, for robots. Only read if you're weird.

Unknown Speaker Hey man, what's up? Have you ever heard of Thomas Midgley Jr, Speaker 1 Thomas McGonigal, Unknown Speaker Midgley, Midgley, Thomas Midgley, Jr. No Speaker 1 heard his dad though. Senior. Thomas Midgley, Unknown Speaker Thomas Midgley, Jr. Unknown Speaker No, I have no idea who Speaker 2 you might recognize this quote from Speaker 1 what did he do all things through Christ who gives me strength? Speaker 2 That's a different guy. This is a quote from John Robert McNeil, the round, rundown really round environmental historian, okay. He said of Thomas Thomas, Jr. He said that Thomas had more of an adverse impact on our planet than any other single organism in the earth's history. Okay. He's a good guy. Unknown Speaker What do you just like chalk down for us ever for us for the sport? Speaker 2 If you dress nice, we're gonna be super rich. Yeah, because this is gonna work fantastic. Long story short, one day he got tangled up in these ropes and they Speaker 1 killed him. Oh, really? He didn't die. The polio. How much gasoline would you drink for a couple of million dollars. Speaker 2 But luckily he died early so we were able to kind of take back everything. Unknown Speaker Things I Learned last night Speaker 2 time is measured Lee Jr. He was born in 1889. In Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania. They named because there's a beaver Speaker 1 can't walk straight. The bar is called the drunk fever Speaker 2 drunk beaver. But he's not drunk. He just isn't coordinated. Looks like he just yeah, he's just wattles and false. So Thomas Mitchell Jr. was a an engineer. In mechanical and chemical he did both well over 100 responsible for the oil industry or why? Well, well offer was well over 100 Pass RNs to his name. Okay. Two of those patents, however, have been banned. And by who? Most the response all Unknown Speaker banned by most. Speaker 2 Most it's estimated that those two inventions Well, one of the two images actually. The first one is estimated that that has killed over 100 million people globally. And the other is estimated that it has cost the collective American IQ 824 million points since the 1940s. Maybe that IQ is not as I should have led with that that killing 100 million people was more significant than dropping What are Unknown Speaker you create the United States Government Speaker 2 television? I'm just kidding. No, Thomas Mitchell, Jr. Well, I should we should provide some backstory first, actually, before we get into Thomas Mitchell Jr. Okay. Have you ever heard of the automobile? Speaker 1 Yes. So so he did. He is responsible for the oil industry. But Speaker 2 not the oil industry. Okay, but he is adjacent to the oil industry. Jason Unknown Speaker got it cool. Yeah. Who says things like that? Go ahead. Unknown Speaker Okay. Automobiles. Have you heard of him? Unknown Speaker Sure. So he not horseless carriages Speaker 2 in pre 1920. I don't know bills. I don't know why he's saying automobiles. It just makes him sound older. If you say car It sounds more modern. His car short for carriage? I think so. Yeah. As automobile short for automobile. Billy as his automobile edge. But that was too much of a mouthful. Yeah. So they said automobile, automobiles, Unknown Speaker which is much easier to say. Speaker 2 Pre 1920. Yeah. They didn't start with like a key or anything like that. Or a push to start or remote start. They didn't have any of that yet. Sure. What they had was feelings was you Speaker 1 had to go out and be like, Hello. Hi. feelings start. Like I'm ready to drive. Now all you had to do was you had to go. Your feet underneath the car. Do you know what I'm referencing? Yeah, Flintstones. Okay. Why did you do that weird. Road Runner noise is the same thing. No, no, mine was which is like, you know, Flintstones feet and yours was? Yeah. Which is like Unknown Speaker I get me there. Speaker 1 Okay. There's no no, no, no, you're rolling. It's a it's a now I've lost it. Tim. Is I'm Morse code No, I Speaker 2 Oh, Got it. You're directing? He's got it. Yeah, but Avenue. Speaker 1 Close enough. Kinda Yeah, I was getting there. Speaker 2 No, you open up the hood and there was a little like kind of like a tire iron. So easy to get you stuck into the engine cranked it yanked it over to turn it over. And that's how you started the car. Yeah, the problem was Speaker 1 when like when you go camping and you've got one of those little lamps, that's battery powered. Speaker 2 Yeah. Yeah, exactly. Like you got a toy. The crank on the back, you crank it to get to go. Yeah, the early nuclear bombs Unknown Speaker were unlucky fellows. Speaker 2 This was one difficult like, it wasn't this wasn't a like, Oh, I'm great. It was, oh, I'm cranking like, this is hard to crank this engine start, you know? Yeah. It was it was tough enough where it was literally advertised that women can't start cars. Which is also something that the time they probably would have just said it. You could have just said Speaker 1 anyway, ya know, you're a poor old lady. You can crank that soulja boy. Speaker 2 And so it was, but it's also dangerous, because if you left that crank in there too long, it would start spinning with the engine and engines. Unknown Speaker And they would like to take your arm. Yeah, yeah. Speaker 2 So it was actually like a genuinely dangerous way to start a vehicle. But they just haven't come up with a better way to do it yet. Until a relatively notable person in the automotive industry is driving along the road. And there just happened to be a damsel in distress, whose car was on the side of the road, she couldn't get to start. So he pulls over to help her crank starts her engine. And a rather common issue happened where he didn't get the crank out in time. And it popped up and it caught him in the jaw and it broke his jaw. And he actually died as a result of his injuries. That was the time where a broken jaw could kill you. Okay, Speaker 1 I think I think it's more like the head trauma probably did it. Speaker 2 Yeah, that or an infection after the fact. Oh, maybe even more sure. But either way he got he got this injury and later died because of that injury. And a close colleague of him Charles Kettering who Kettering who worked for a research institute that worked closely with the automotive industry was like, we need to come up with a better solution for this Unknown Speaker people are getting hurt. We got to fill out an incident report about this. Unknown Speaker Do you want to tell your story? No, it's an active case. You can't I can't Unknown Speaker talk about my lawyers involved. Speaker 2 You don't have a lawyer you're representing yourself Unknown Speaker hey on the advice of my counsel, shut up so so this guy gets injured, guys. Speaker 2 Yeah, yeah. And a friend of his basically invents the key the strike that way. This changed the game. Speaker 1 And he was like, well, the women are gonna lose these. Speaker 2 So he came up with air tags not back was out a long time ago. Now in creating that though, the first vehicle that used it was a different a slightly different style of engine. Okay, that compressed to the fuel a little bit more than normal. And so because of that it was significantly louder than most engines on the market. Speaker 1 So I asked him before we started recording I said you got interesting topics today are boring ones. And he said interesting. Hey, and here we are. i i Yeah, go ahead, buddy. Hey, don't worry Oh, we'll get the engines the the type of oil that would squeeze through the engine or is you know, compressing Unknown Speaker this is important backstory backstory is always boring. Okay. Unknown Speaker Okay, so I trust you Speaker 2 these in the engine in this car was really loud. Also, because it compressed this just feels Speaker 1 like we're going on a roller coaster. It's like thinking do you do the sound? Stupid. Bad. Yeah, and you're gonna tick tick, tick, tick, tick, tick, tick, tick, tick, tick, tick, tick, tick, tick, tick, tick, tick, tick, tick. That's what it feels like right now. Unknown Speaker Yeah, cool. Unknown Speaker I'm glad you feel like that. no end in sight to the top of the coaster is just that there's another station at the top. Unknown Speaker Did everyone else to walk up the stairs? Speaker 1 On the coaster through this wild ride? Drag part of the tracks Michigan leaps over to the other. You know, Speaker 2 yeah, but the EPA said no one can ride this is two days, they'd already Speaker 1 built it. So they were like they just like that is, yeah, but all the theming is still there. And so it's like, come on guys, we got to get going with it. It just takes off without you, you know, Speaker 2 it's very So, so this engine was really loud, and it was also prone to misfiring. And that misfiring was also ridiculously loud and bad for the engine. And so Catherine had a problem that he needed to solve, which was this misfiring thing. And this the, how compressed the fuel got in this? Sure. And so he hires Thomas, mentally junior grade to come up with a solution for this. And so he tries a lot of different additives to add to gasoline to make it to where it doesn't compress as hard and doesn't lead to these potential failures. Unknown Speaker Fanta Orange, so Warren syrup, Speaker 2 he actually didn't check horns here. And I know he tried a lot of different things. And a difficult I won't maybe not difficult but annoying job probably because he did this. I mean, just a ridiculous amount of tests. And he actually has a quote where he said, the majority of the things he tried was like spitting in the Great Lakes. Which I like that phrase. Speaker 1 You can't say spitting in the Great Lakes USA spitting in the Great Lakes. Yeah, thanks. flows better. Yeah, it's like automobile versus Speaker 2 does it have the same flow as well, it's all about the flow. So Thomas Midgley, Jr. Here's a picture of them. While we're here, glad we got this Thomas mentally Jr. He went to work. And he realized, Oh, hey, it's like the 1920s. There's this thing that's everywhere. Called lead. And he said, What if I put some lead in it? Unknown Speaker Oh, he put the lead in the paint and all that stuff. Well, he put Speaker 2 lead and everything first. Well, yeah. Yeah. And then everything else, and then everything else. And then he led the way. Yeah, he loved the way. And he, here's the thing. It worked great. It worked. It did exactly what they needed it to do was a huge success. And it was also one of the cheapest additives that he found. Okay. And so he came to Kettering. And he said, we're going to be super rich. Yeah, because this is gonna work fantastic. And they renamed they, they packaged up this additive version of gasoline. They added a second added to its release. So they could just brand the gasoline, as ethyl. And they intentionally did not include the fact that lead was in this and any other marketing or any of their packaging. Lead was a major component in this, but they intentionally didn't include it because at the time, even at that time, they knew that lead was bad, very bad for you. They knew that probably about 150 years before this. There's documentation of Thomas, talking about how dangerous lead is that he was sick from his lead stocks pencil. Yeah, my mechanical pencils are making me sick. That's what he said. A direct quote from Thomas Jefferson, one of my personal favorites. Speaker 1 Hey, August 31. You've got plans? Do you got plans? You've got plans? Oh, Google Play is hosting a live stream on their YouTube channel. And we are hosting that live stream that they're hosting. We're gonna be in it. Yeah, we're Unknown Speaker gonna own a lot of fun. We're gonna be playing games, Unknown Speaker clear eight hours of your day. Unknown Speaker Whatever. It takes a beat to watch us on this. Speaker 1 If you're bored, don't go to your job and give very minimal effort that day. Put us on your phone, tablet, laptop, whatever it is. We're gonna be hanging out all day with Google Play on August 31. Yeah, pretty exciting stuff. Unknown Speaker Spam the chat say your name over and over and over again. Speaker 2 So they started marketing this, Ethel. They ran into issues pretty quickly. Okay, because they had a manufacturing plant that there are people there manufacturers were getting lead poisoning. And they were Speaker 1 like, well, it says about, they were like, ah, have you been seemed like we're in an ethic? Ethical core Speaker 2 ethical dilemma. Did you at the Likkle koyna. It's Unknown Speaker really trying to get it going. Unknown Speaker It's for ethical issues. Speaker 1 And what do you think about like if something is really cool. We say, as drainage to use wet as a barometer for how cool something is that way if it's not cool, we can say that's true. Unknown Speaker I'm just trying to I'm just an event. Speaker 1 You know, I'm just trying to get it out there, ya know? If you know but anyway, at the local, Unknown Speaker ethical, ethical. Unknown Speaker Of course, they're gonna lead poisoning. Speaker 2 Yeah, they're getting lead poisoning. And so the Unknown Speaker water, what would cause that the he's like, Unknown Speaker the rest of the world was like what's going on what's happening there now. Unknown Speaker So he hires Edward Bernays. Speaker 2 He actually holds a press conference to say, hey, yeah, there's a little bit of lead in this is not bad amount of that. Like, it's not a dangerous amount of lead. Maybe if you weren't there, like but we're, we're kind of upper safety precautions at our manufacturing plant, so there'll be fine. And he said, but wow, it's like, I can pour this gasoline all over my hands. I can look my hands afterwards. And I'm fine. And he did that at the press conference to show that like, hey, this isn't dangerous. And everyone was Speaker 1 like, Well, is there a movie that I'm thinking of? There? Yes. What is it where he's created a cleaning solution? And he goes on like QVC and the whole thing is that you can drink his cleaning solution. Oh my gosh, what movie is this? Speaker 2 Is that movie about Apple? What? The movie about Apple? Speaker 1 Yeah, there's a side story about a guy who made a cleaning solution. Now there's some movie. He makes a cleaning solution and the whole thing is that you can drink you know, he's like, he like Gatorade, right competitors stuff. Anything drinks there. You know? I can't think what it is out find out later. Yeah, so that's what he does. Yeah, he drinks QVC he goes out to a press conference. It was pouring it all over and like they're not filming at the time. They don't got that right. So he's just been in front of a bunch of Newsies. Yeah, he's like, go tell the town. I did tell every lead extra soggy man says the lead is safe. Unknown Speaker Midgley got Letty. And it's good. Speaker 1 Lead. He's their mascot. So he he gets highs, ironically. You know, anyway. Speaker 2 And so because of this is so cheap. Yeah. And because it solves the problem. Sure. The world is lining up to get some of his leaded fuel. And so that becomes a huge thing and gasoline. That's where I'm at it. Yeah, well, now that yeah, this next part of the story is why right now, yes, this is the leaded pre unleaded Speaker 1 is. I'm gonna ask a clarifying question in the middle of this episode. Yes. Is the fact that all gas pumps say unleaded? Is that where your story gets interesting? Because yeah, we're getting interesting now. I don't know. I'm interested to hear the Speaker 2 Snowball is picking up the Snowball is picking it up Unknown Speaker picking winners. Unknown Speaker Oh my god Unknown Speaker no, that's okay. Speaker 2 Have you ever been to a TED talk? Where like in the middle of a TED Talk someone's just like a witness the Unknown Speaker future so this is like Speaker 2 I've actually been to a performance of Shrek the Musical this high school. Kid was like what are they Speaker 1 one of the best videos I've seen is you may kiss the bride. Unknown Speaker Give the god tags. Speaker 1 It's Oh, it's Shrek. The musical. texts. No, Shrek is supposed to bust in and stop the the wedge between squad and Fiona. Yeah, Mrs. Q misses his cue. are just standing. It's a high school production. And they're just standing out there. No one says oh, they just they just but I mean, in a normal scenario, maybe the priests would say his line again to try Unknown Speaker and be like, yeah. Speaker 1 But it just looks like Lord far. Quad was awkward. homeschooler doesn't Unknown Speaker know. And he's part Speaker 1 five instead, you know? Yeah, yeah. And then Shrek comes out. Well, then this kid shots. What do you do? Do it just very funny. And then Shrek comes up and goes, hope they're waiting Speaker 2 up to the stage. That's a good scene. It's a good scene. Yeah, so very similar. So Speaker 1 we love watching high school productions. We should go to more high school. All productions. Speaker 2 The way you said that made you realize that I don't know if we're allowed to know, I Unknown Speaker think we're old enough now. Yeah, we could Speaker 2 pretend that like, we're related to one of them or something. Speaker 1 Well, I'm saying like there's an age, there's an age like, college and to where we are now. Like if you're like 20 something and hanging out. You're either a youth pastor or a creep or both. Yeah. And now we're at the age where it's like we can go to support local theater. Unknown Speaker Maybe if you dress nice enough. Speaker 1 We show tuxes. Okay. It doesn't look like we're trying to sneak into prom anymore. It's very clear. We're not high school Speaker 1 local high school production of grease. Yeah, in tuxes. Ah, the laws are regular gentlemen, you get dropped off in a limo? Yeah. The more we joke about this, the more I want to Unknown Speaker do more, it just did I get Speaker 1 phenomenal. We hire security Unknown Speaker really sharply dressed for this? Speaker 1 Yeah, we get like a full security team. We buy 20 tickets so that there's no seats around us. Just Speaker 2 to be fair, high school production tickets are like $3 a pop like we could easily buy. Unknown Speaker On the same page. Speaker 3 I mean, I feel like the the real power move is you buy like a six by six grid of seats just in the data center. Unknown Speaker We're all on the same page. Because Speaker 3 that way you also have like your whole security detail. And yeah, so rounding? Yeah, well, no, you have just like people all around the perimeter of it. So you have your entire detail that has to then come into the building and be like, oh, excuse me. Sorry. Speaker 1 Sorry. Sorry. Excuse me. Yeah. Your bottle of water, sir. Unknown Speaker We buy every single ticket except one. Unknown Speaker No, that's what you do to Criss Angel. Speaker 1 That's what I'm saying though. If you bought every ticket to a Criss Angel show you'd find out there's plants there. Speaker 2 Yeah, you would Yeah. Wait, no. I bought all that. Speaker 1 I know for a fact. You're not real. She's not real. That audience member anyway. Yeah. So local theater productions. Speaker 2 It's good idea. Speaking of local theater productions, the whole industry bought on to all this stuff they were they were stoked. And so like 90 Different in the industry awards were given to Thomas Midgley because he like changed the world or something. But he missed all of the acceptance ceremonies, because he was in Miami because he was recovering from lead poisoning. Unknown Speaker I remember getting a laugh at that. Speaker 2 And the reason he would turn is because he washed his hands in the stuff. Well, not Well, I mean, he because he was around the lead. Sure. And so he got lead poisoning. And what he said was I'm gonna go to Miami for a little bit to heal of my lead poisoning and breathe fresh air. Like he said that yeah, he thought that I guess the thing that fixes lead poisoning, it's fresh air, so I'm going to be honest with you. I don't know if he had a lead poisoning or if he just wanted a long vacation. Yeah, either way. He missed all of his acceptance. Speaker 1 I'm gonna stay home from work for two weeks. I have lead poisoning my doctor says so he hires the high school senior to act like a doctor. Hi, Speaker 2 I'm Thomas is Lance's lead is good deal you can tell he's led by the way as skid looks like silver painted gray Unknown Speaker Thomas's. Unknown Speaker He's got lead boy, Unknown Speaker he's also Sure. Speaker 1 No, I would do well. No, that's what happened to the fairytale goes. So he himself has lived in Miami. He's Speaker 2 in Miami. He's healing from famous breathe and breathe in fresh air where you can heal him in the money. And his his buddy mr. at Kettering gets a contract from a refrigeration company. And the company says, hey, the chemicals that we're using to refrigerate stuff are pretty volatile, what do they need to be for refrigeration, but they shouldn't be this volatile. They're like a lot of our fridges are blown up. And obviously, that's not something we want with our fridges. So can you come up with a solution for that? And so he calls up Thomas in Miami and says, I need you to come home. And he said, he said, No, I'm busy said I need you to come home Unknown Speaker the next fly home Speaker 2 thanks for checking out our show. If you like it, and you want to support be a part of what we're doing here. You can do that by becoming a patron. What happens there is you get to be in the community. We have a discord with our hosts and producers, we have a lot of fun. We're super active in there every day you get access to add free content a week before everybody else. And we have a zoom every month with our patrons. We hang out we eat pizza, we get to know you a little bit better. It's a blast. And there's a ton of other different benefits like merch discounts, birthday messages, things like that, that are super cool. If you want to be in that you can just text HiLine to 66866 and that'll get you right in there. If not, we're just super glad that you're here. And thanks for watching our show. Speaker 2 Kettering is like we got it. We got a new project. He said you got to come up with a new fuel source for refrigerators for refrigerators. And so he invent Freon Long story short, which is a big part of Yeah, fridges and AC units still cars to this day? Yeah, they call them CFCs. But they branded it as Freon they brand named it Freon Sure. Because again, the contents of it are toxic to human consumption or consumption. I don't know if that's the right word human touch. Yeah, just being around it kills you. Is the point of the story. I guess human touch. I mean, touch and smell. And human touch carries you and well depending on your your Enneagram type Speaker 1 and youth group as well or church camp, but human touch will kill you. Speaker 2 Yeah, that's Well, it depends on the human. So he invents Freon and it's another huge success. Big hit. They are absolutely rolling in it super rich. Well, good. They're Speaker 1 needed to pay their legal fees for the other stuff. Speaker 2 Yeah. So people start to discover that both of these things are really bad for you. But it takes a while like the 50s or 60s. And now we still use Freon though. Kinda okay. So, so lead was banned from being in gasoline. Okay. And it was kind of like this it well, after he died. So maybe maybe I should maybe I should finish Thomas's story for a second. Thomas went on to invent a lot of other stuff got super rich was relatively noteworthy throughout his life. And then he got polio. And couldn't walk anymore. So he invented some stuff to help them be able to walk and one of the things he invented was a bed that couldn't move like a hospital bed does now. Oh, Ben for Speaker 1 I want you to know what I pictured was a full bed. Good stand up like a transformer. And like half the bed would be his legs. Panda bed the whole bed mattress down the hall. That's what I picture twin size or king size. Probably full. You know, Queens might be a little too wide for it's a one person bed. Yeah. A couple wake up. Speaker 2 And it's like it's like a what's a three legged race? So I'm used towards the one in the middle doesn't switch. Speaker 1 You got a three? Yeah, yeah, it's like you're it's like what's your sleep number? You know? It's like walking too fast. Unknown Speaker Slow down. Yeah, so he Unknown Speaker fast walker you are Bri. Speaker 2 Usually me, every once in a while breed speeds up for some reason. Or, as usually me. Speaker 1 Depends on where we're at. Sometimes usually it's me. Yeah. But if we're at Disney, Regan is sprinting everywhere to get our pins. Unknown Speaker Yeah, my buttons Speaker 2 so he invented this bed that moves up and down. But the it was it was primitive. It wasn't like our modern hospital beds are I've been saying it was like a series of pulleys and ropes and stuff that like moved it Speaker 1 also had led, like, just none of it was like good. No. Speaker 2 And so he long story short one day he got tangled up in these rubs and they killed him. Speaker 1 Oh, really? He didn't die or the polio. I mean, he died of his machine. Speaker 2 Yeah. But it wasn't it wasn't it, he wouldn't have died if it weren't for polio. So he died because of the polio, but also, I guess. But this was November 2 1944, the very end of the war early enough to where I don't think he was aware of what was about to happen with all of his inventions, and how negative and impact he had on the world. Speaker 1 However, why did they say he's responsible for 100,000? Because of World War Two? Yeah, he started World War Two, Speaker 2 you know, however, there is so publicly it was, he was moving his bed and he got tangled up and there is reports that it was he did it on purpose. Oh, and that Saturday. Some people think that it was the guilt because he he knew that lead was bad for you. He knew that lead was bad for you and he was lying about it. And he went to extensive late lengths like that, that first to prove it was fine to prove it was fine. Even though he knew all experts nature that led consumption was bad. And so he knew it was a dangerous thing. But he got was getting really rich. So he just turned a blind eye. Same thing with Freon. When Freon came out. He inhaled a bunch of Freon like it was helium and blew out a candle to show them like, hey, it's safe. It wasn't and he knew it wasn't. But he was like he was like, I'll do it once to make a couple million dollars. It'll be fine. Unknown Speaker Okay, yeah, I mean, how much gasoline would you drink for? A couple of million dollars. You know? Speaker 2 That's the thing though. I don't know how much gasoline you can drink. He knows exactly how much you can. If I understood how much you can drink? Sure, I'll drink a gallon or two. Speaker 1 How much you can drink? That's true. Yeah, true. You're saying that if the amount is let's say the AB let's say the amount is three ounces, you go either a gallon or two. You know the amount of three ounces? Like if I know three ounces, I'll drink a gallon to know if I don't three ounces. I will hold you to what you said originally. Speaker 2 If I think it's a gallon or you drink that amount, I would drink as close as I can get to the legal amount without Have you seen that episode of nevermind Speaker 1 jet video of the girl who couldn't figure out how to unstop the gas thing. And so her gas things like spraying and all that. Yeah. She's like, What do I do? She said it's okay. It's only three ounces. Speaker 2 It's fine. It's done. Yeah, so he knew it was bad. And so a lot of people thought that he was like, maybe like way down with the shirt because he knew it was a problem. I don't think he recognized how big a problem was. I don't think he knew Freon was as big of a problem as it was. But here's some things that we've learned after the fact. Obviously, I've alluded to it, I think I actually flat out said that led was banned led paint was banned in 78. And lead so much longer getting banned. Yeah. And by the end of the 70s, lead was banned from just about everything. Sure, there wasn't a lot of chemical usages, and was banned from just about everything. What's interesting is we know that especially for children that lead just like being around lead and breathing that in limits your cognitive growth, specifically parts of the brain that are related to like decision making. And so there's a very interesting correlation that's been drawn of the crime rate in connection to lead being in gasoline and paint. So here's a graph. The black line is the blood lead content level of children in the United States. The red line is the crime rate, violent crime rate in the United States. This is adjusted 20 years. So you'll notice the graph at the bottom has two sets a number occurs. And so when lead started being popularly used in the nation, 20 years later, the violent crime rate started to rise. And as it got more common, it peaked in it, it follows pretty closely. And then when lead got outlawed 20 years later, the violent crime rate started to deployment. This is true, not just in the US, but globally. This is these are graphs of Australia, Canada, Great Britain, New Zealand. And so this isn't just like a thing where it's like, oh, this happened in the US. It happened everywhere in the world, and everywhere in the world banned it. And when they did, the violent crime rate started to plummet significantly. Which is very interesting. Huh. Speaker 1 It feels like it does seem like they all hit us like a stagnation point, though. Speaker 2 Yeah, yeah, that's just the normal crime. That's that's the normal human propensity to crime. I mean, you're gonna cry and they're gonna cry. I just needed to pull over and get a good crime and sorry, Cry Cry Unknown Speaker that's what we all said. Right. We all said cry. Yeah, Unknown Speaker I like to cry from time to time. Speaker 1 Sometimes I just like to release what's in me by this need a good crime. Crime scene should Speaker 2 get a good crime in I'm just trying to get a good climate. But, uh, yeah. And that that led led to the lead caused a collective IQ drop of 824 million points in the United States. Wow. Which is a lot so. And then a lot of people died of lead poisoning. So there's a lot of people estimate 100 million people who died of lead poisoning or lead poisoning related illnesses. Variable 100 million globally during this timeframe when lead became popu popularly used because of him. Sure. But it wasn't just the lead. It was the free the Freon was a big thing to CFCs got banned in 1994. And what's really interesting is, and 2020 Freon as we know, it was completely banned as well. They've got a new version. Okay. Yeah. The guy came in. He drank a bunch of it. Sure. But the there's evidence that the CFCs were the reason for the hole in the ozone layer, because it was used in not just Freon and air conditioning and refrigeration. Yeah. But that was like the main component and like for breeze sprays, like anything that was a spray, and those went up in the atmosphere. You see all those Speaker 1 videos couple years ago, they were like, remember, like it took them 14, when people were talking about the whole ozone layer. Then one day, we just stopped hearing about it during those videos, and you're like, yeah, man, we did stuff and they fix that. Unknown Speaker Well, a lot of people think it's the banning of the CFCs. Because Unknown Speaker what I know is caused the hole in the ozone layer. Tell me Speaker 2 about it. Oh, it was when God reached in and pulled the Garden of Eden out and moon. Speaker 1 What I gotta say, okay, but I've got these little pucks around my house. All right. There's all this Oregon, Unknown Speaker or Yeah. Unknown Speaker What are we looking at now? Speaker 2 So this is the Earth from above the Northeast pole. Okay, and in this graphic, the hole in the ozone. If you look up at the top of the 79, that little tiny blue area is the area that's okay. Okay, as you move along in time, the blue area is the area that's getting better. So we have a kind of rough patch that's happening right now. But for the most part ever since CFCs got banned. The ozone layer has been healing and getting a lot better. Have we not banned in 79 a lot of climate experts say that the planet probably would have been uninhabitable by 2060. And now they expect the hole in the ozone layer to be gone and completely healed by 2060. And so this guy, potentially I mean, the climate issue is this guy's fault. Also so good legacy, okay. He Yeah, so he killed the most people out of anyone ever damaged the planet? Almost erupt irreparably, right. But luckily he died early. So we were able to kind of take back everything. I think they took back his rewards but he never accepted them. So it was fine to Well, it's Speaker 1 because I went back in time to November 2 1944. And he said, Hey, don't you need to leave your bed up first, and I only killed one. Oh, wait, hold on. What? Who was another person who were killed in 1944? Who's everyone said they go back Time to Kill. Really want Disney? Yep. But really you killed Speaker 2 you killed the guy who was more I said there was a show dangerous Speaker 1 of like the if time travel is real. Yeah. And like someone hasn't gone back and killed Hitler then there's something there's somebody worse someone that did get killed. Speaker 2 Yeah, yeah. It's an interesting concept. Yeah So yeah, that's Thomas Midgley he was a most dangerous man has ever lived I guess Unknown Speaker technically. That's where we're going with Okay big nerd though. Big Nerd big nerd big Unknown Speaker danger. Unknown Speaker Oh, Er. Er, yeah. All right. Are we ready to end this thing? Unknown Speaker Yeah, okay, you have something that you want to Yeah, hold on I gotta say Unknown Speaker we're gonna be doing federal Speaker 1 things on last night is a production of space. Tim media produced by Christian Taylor audio is edited by Alex Garnett video by Connor Betts social media is run by Caleb Walker and graphic design by Caleb Goldberg. Our hosts are Jaron Meyers and Tim stone please follow us on social media at tilam podcast that's ti LL IN podcast, leave a review, comment, subscribe, wherever you are. Thank you for listening to things on my site. Transcribed by

In the realm of scientific innovation, specific individuals stand out for their exceptional contributions to the progress of humanity. One such figure is Thomas Midgley, whose brilliance led to significant advancements in both the automotive and refrigeration industries. However, alongside his notable accomplishments, Midgley’s legacy is marred by controversies that serve as a reminder of the complex ethical dilemmas that can arise from scientific discoveries.

Early Life and Education

Thomas Midgley was born in 1889 in Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania. From a young age, he displayed an innate curiosity and an insatiable desire to understand the world around him. This curiosity, combined with his determination, led him to pursue a degree in mechanical engineering from Cornell University.

Revolutionizing the Automotive Industry

Midgley’s Ethyl Gasoline Innovation

Thomas Midgley’s name is forever linked with his groundbreaking innovation in the automotive industry: adding tetraethyl lead to gasoline. In the 1920s, as automobiles became increasingly popular, engine knocking became a significant issue. Midgley’s solution was the introduction of ethyl gasoline, which reduced engine knocking and boosted overall engine performance. This achievement propelled the automobile industry forward, allowing vehicles to run more efficiently and encouraging further growth in transportation.

Advancing the Refrigeration Industry

The Creation of Freon

Not content with revolutionizing the automotive sector, Thomas Midgley set his sights on another technology area: refrigeration. Before his work, refrigerants were often toxic or flammable, posing severe risks. Midgley’s ingenuity led to the development of chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) compounds, commercially known as Freon. These compounds offered a safer and more efficient alternative for refrigeration systems, which profoundly impacted various industries, including food preservation and air conditioning.

Controversies and Ethical Dilemmas

Unintended Consequences of CFCs

While Thomas Midgley’s contributions brought undeniable advancements, they also brought unforeseen consequences. The CFC compounds he invented for refrigeration turned out to have a detrimental effect on the environment. CFCs were found to deplete the ozone layer, leading to severe environmental repercussions such as increased UV radiation reaching Earth’s surface. This revelation sparked a global awareness of the interconnectedness between scientific progress and environmental responsibility.

The Dark Side of Innovation

Ethical Reflections

Thomas Midgley’s legacy is a cautionary tale about the ethical implications of scientific breakthroughs. The ethyl gasoline and CFCs he introduced transformed industries, but their negative impacts on health and the environment underscore the need for comprehensive research into potential consequences before widespread implementation. Midgley’s story serves as a reminder that innovation must be accompanied by a deep sense of responsibility for the consequences of one’s creations.


In the annals of scientific history, the name Thomas Midgley stands as a testament to the power of human ingenuity and its capacity to drive progress. Midgley’s contributions to the automotive and refrigeration industries have left an indelible mark on the world. However, his legacy is not an unmitigated success; it’s a reminder that even the most brilliant innovations can have unintended and sometimes adverse consequences. As we continue to advance technologically, let us not forget the lessons of Thomas Midgley and strive for a future where scientific exploration is tempered with ethical consideration.

Things I Learned Last Night is an educational comedy podcast where best friends Jaron Myers and Tim Stone talk about random topics and have fun all along the way. If you like learning and laughing a lot while you do, you’ll love TILLN. Watch or listen to this episode right now!




Thomas Midgley Jr. – Wikipedia

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