If you were going to go on a talk about Latin America’s startup ecosystem, one of the first countries that you bring up would be Mexico. Why? As the second-largest country in Latin America, Mexico has consistently led Latin America in innovation. It’s rich elongated history and constantly evolving culture has not only had an impact on the Americas but the rest of the world.
You might not view Mexico as a technological power, but the inventiveness and resourcefulness of the Mexican people have led to some impressive feats, including these seven inventions that would go on to change the world.
1. Earthquake Resistant Foundations
Earthquakes are some of the most destructive forces in nature destroying infrastructure and even occasionally taking lives. Even more so without proper planning and/or engineering in metropolitan areas that are prone to earthquakes and can turn catastrophic very quickly. Born out of necessity, Mexican engineer Manuel González Flores would go on to invent control pilings, also known as earthquake-resistant foundations. Coming into existence in the late 40s and early 50s, these unique foundations can adapt to the movement of a building, redistributing energy generated by an earthquake. His invention would go on to play a vital role in cities with high earthquake risk.
If you are from Europe, you might have missed this one. Chocolate now tends to be correlated with the Swiss and the Belgians, however, the origin of chocolate goes back to Latin America. It is widely regarded that chocolate was invented/discovered during the Mesoamerican period. Even more so, you can thank the Olmecs for developing this treat that you cannot get enough of. The Olmecs developed the first iterations of chocolate by using cocoa beans and eventually creating a fermented beverage. The Mayans loved hot chocolate while the Aztecs preferred having it cold and bitter. Nevertheless, it was not sweetened with sugar until it made its way to Europe.
3. Chewing Gum
You might love chewing it, or cringe at the sight of someone moving their jaw as if they were a cow, but chewing gum is one of those things that is just about everywhere. Chewing gum was invented in Mexico by the Mayans. Now, they were not going around chewing triple bubble apple flavor. The Mayans extracted the sap from trees to create their own version of chewing gum. The Aztecs would not only enjoy chewing gum but they also used the sticky substance to hold objects and projects together.
4. Anti-Graffiti Paint
Like New York in the ’70s, Mexico City has a real problem with graffiti. To combat the growing problem, in the early 2000s researchers from UNAM’s Applied Physics and Advanced Technology Centre in Querétaro developed Deletum 3000, a paint-like substance that would go on to be dubbed “anti-graffiti paint.” This special biodegradable ‘paint’ prevents anything oily or wet from adhering to it. In short, Deletum 300 keeps paint from gripping to the walls.
5. Indelible Ink
Speaking of special paint-like substances, ten years before the creation of Anti-Graffiti Paint, Mexican researchers created a special indelible ink. However, this ink had a very specific purpose, and that was to prevent electoral fraud. This ink soaks into the hand of voters and remains there for 24 hours. This helps prevent people from going on to vote a second or third time, which was very prevalent at the time. This indelible ink was not just a hit in Mexico, but would go on to play a vital role in elections across Latin America, including Honduras and the Dominican Republic.
6. Oral Contraceptives
Oral contraceptives would play a tremendous role in the culture of both the 1950s and the 1960s. Luis Miramontes at the age of 26 in 1951 synthesized one of the key ingredients found in the pill dubbed as “progestin norethindrone.” He eventually earned the title as the “father of the pill.”
7. Color Television
Televisions almost seem like novelties nowadays packed with new features engineered to enhance your viewing experience. Yet, prior to QLED and 8K displays, the idea of having a simple color TV was revolutionary. Invented by Guillermo González Camarena at the young age of 22, he would go on to introduce his self-built color television to the country in the 1940s. His research and inventiveness would eventually lead him to create the trichromatic, field-sequential system and an improved chromoscopic adapter that enabled color transmissions. In 1942 he obtained the official patent and finally would fully enjoy color images from his lab in 1946.