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In the Moment - - Letters - www.pen­ta­

Women of in­ven­tion

Ma­chines, medicines, air­craft, cen­tral heat­ing... women have in­vented things in a stag­ger­ing va­ri­ety of elds, of­ten work­ing in ob­scu­rity. In our mini se­ries, we shine a spot­light on a fe­male in­ven­tor who changed the world.

In the 1940’s, Hun­gar­ian-Amer­i­can en­gi­neer Maria Telkes worked for the Mas­sachusetts In­sti­tute of Tech­nol­ogy’s So­lar Energy Con­ver­sa­tion Project (try reel­ing off that job ti­tle at par­ties), where she de­vel­oped a house that used glass and metal pan­els to trap the sun’s heat. It was then fun­nelled into stor­age bins in the walls full of sodium sul­fate. On sunny days, the salt melted and ab­sorbed the heat, then on cold days the salt cooled and re­crys­tallised, keep­ing the house warm purely with the ab­sorbed heat.

This started the in­no­va­tion for cap­tur­ing and de­ploy­ing so­lar energy. Maria then spent the next 50 years com­ing up with more in­no­va­tive so­lar power de­signs, truly earn­ing her nick­name, ‘Sun Queen’.

Sec­ond-hand home

We have a rub­bish taste in in­te­ri­ors – lit­er­ally! Pen­ta­tonic is a com­pany who are in “the busi­ness of res­ur­rec­tion”, mak­ing stylish pieces of home­ware by re­cy­cling the stuff that we chuck away ev­ery day.

Their sig­na­ture item is the per­son­alised ‘Air­tool’ chair; a sleek and com­fort­able seat made from re­cy­cled ocean plas­tic. You can build it any way, colour and height that you like for a truly unique piece of fur­ni­ture.

Plus, if you ever get bored of your Pen­ta­tonic piece (doubt­ful), you can just trade it back to the com­pany and they’ll make it into some­thing else. All hail the rise of the cir­cu­lar econ­omy.

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