Many of the objects we use every day emerged many generations ago. But some of the items we take for granted have gone through amazing transformations since their initial application.
For example, in the past, the treadmill, which we use nowadays for exercise, was originally designed to punish criminals. Up until several decades ago, scientists used Wi-Fi to search for black holes in space, not for surfing the internet.
Read on to discover more strange facts about some of these and other everyday objects. You won't believe how their actual, exciting histories began.
1. Balloon animals
The concept of the first balloon animals was not at all fun. It was part of the animal sacrifice conducted by the Aztecs. Instead of rubber, the Aztecs made their figures from dried animal intestines. Once made, the figures were thrown into a blazing pyre as a sign of veneration toward the Sun God.
2. Birthday cake candles
We all know why we put candles on our birthday cakes. When this tradition emerged it had quite a different purpose. It arose in ancient Greece, its initial purpose being a sign of worship toward the goddess of the hunt and the moon - Artemis. Women would made honey pitas and stick candles in them so they would shine like the moon.
So you're at the gym. After more than half an hour of intense sweating at the treadmill you start thinking that it's a genuine torture device. And you'd be absolutely right. This exercise machine was in fact built to cause suffering.
Its inventor was William Cubitt, who introduced it to the public in 1818. The first treadmills were basically wooden cylinders, similar to a hamster wheel. A person could go inside and start to walk or run. A London prison warden saw the potential of this invention and enacted it as a form of punishment.
The treadmill turned out to be so effective in making prisoners behave that it was soon brought in to all British prisons. Soon after, the guards figured out that they could attach water pumps to the treadmills and generate cheap energy. As a result, the exercise machine of torture became even more popular. Ultimately though, Cubitt's invention went out of use at the beginning of the 20th century after people staged mass protests, stating that treadmills were too cruel a punishment.
The inventor of Wi-fi is physicist John O'Sullivan. Inspired by Stephen Hawking's theory that black holes send out radio signals, he set out to prove it. In his efforts to pick up signals from space, he developed the Wi-Fi technology for wireless computer networks. Despite all of the idea's potential and its amazing reception worldwide, he continued to try to detect signals from black holes even afterward.