It’s that spark of curiosity. The desire to learn. To know.
Wonder dares to dream. To innovate. It’s the curiosity that leads to problem-solving. The first ingredient to a meaningful outcome. This is the same wonder that fills every 3M employee as we work to apply science to improve lives.
We know that wonder can be big, to be sure. Its impact huge – game changing innovations improving humankind. But we also appreciate and celebrate wonder in its smallest form. Sometimes it’s as simple as a question like “what if?” – a question which ultimately leads to the day-to-day solutions that have meaningful impacts on people’s lives.
Here are just a few.
This year marks the 40th anniversary of the launch of the world’s most-traveled and longest-lived spacecraft, NASA’s Voyager 1 and 2. Each probe has traveled more than 10 billion miles since without a stop for refueling. How is that possible? NASA turned to 3M 40 years ago with that very challenge: build a battery to help explore the outer reaches of space.
Enter Bob Elm, a 3M engineer and self-described “tinkerer.” At the time Bob was working with 3M lead telluride elements and wondered if that would solve the problem. And the atomic battery was born, known as SNAP III (Systems for Nuclear Auxiliary Power). This earned Bob a trip to meet President Eisenhower and helped make possible the exploration our solar system and beyond.
Since then, the technology has been used in 23 space systems, including the Apollo Lunar Surface Experiments Packages; Pioneers 10 and 11; Viking Landers 1 and 2; Voyagers 1 and 2; Galileo; Ulysses; and Cassini. That’s quite a resume. What will it help discover next?
Have you ever wondered what cell phones, vaccinations, and road signs have in common? The overhead projector. Yes, that’s right, that machine that put you to sleep during algebra.
Well, technically it’s the lens inside of the projector. It’s called the Fresnel lens and was invented by 3M using a technology we call “microreplication.” It’s a clever way to replicate thousands of microscopic shapes onto every square inch of a surface in unending uniformity. This very technology has helped advance cell phone displays, the reflectivity of road signs, and even improved how vaccinations are administered. Cool, right? We agree. And at 3M, continue to wonder what we might use it for next.
You might know us as the Scotch® Tape people. Ok, we admit it: we’re nerds about “tape,” but that’s because we’ve seen and experienced what amazing things it can do— helping to make life safer, more beautiful and even more fun. Adhesives don’t just have the strength to bind two objects together, but the power to help people imagine and create – to let their curiosity become reality. And we think that’s cool. Here are five unique ways “sticky” solves problems:
We celebrate and support the wonder in the next generation of scientists, in other companies, and in partners who inspire others to make an impact.
Without electricity, you can’t have refrigeration…right?
A socially-minded startup took on this challenge to reduce food waste. By harnessing the power of evaporation and partnering with 3M on a design solution, the result was the Evaptainer—an electricity-free refrigeration device that keeps vegetables fresh longer in developing countries.
They say youth is wasted on the young, but these kids are putting their youthful energy to good use, asking the right questions bringing innovations that stretch from physical fitness to health sciences to energy.
If you’re looking to be inspired by the curiosity of the next generation, we know some kids who have it in great supply.
You see, we’ve been wondering how? what? and can we? for over 100 years. The results can be found in safer food. Safer roads. In cleaner cities. Cleaner hospitals. Cleaner air, power and in much more. And we look forward to seeing what it leads to next.