Sometimes, science is all about the mind aching big picture. Just like the concept that our Universe is a giant hologram or that we’ve actually detected gravitational waves from a neutron star collision. Or that we’d not originally have as much free as we think…
Those are really-exciting concepts. But then, there are other times once you come across a day- to-day application of technology that’s so simple and yet so important, it reminds you, what all this innovation is about. Case in point: that ubiquitous hole at the top of BIC pen cap.
You have probably never given it much thought, or if you have, you’ve probably brushed it off as some random design feature that regulate air pressure or stops ink from drying-out. And yes, having a hole on their does allow you to close the lid properly without air pressure issue. But it also serves another simple yet ingenious purpose by reducing the danger of choking deaths.
Turns out, it isn’t just us who love chewing on pen lids and lot of people do it, which can cause lids getting accidentally swallowed & lodged in the windpipe with potentially fatal consequences.
By simply adding a bigger hole to the top of the lid, pen company BIC increased air flow and the chance that people would still-be able to breathe even if that happens, a design feature that quite literally saves lives.
“The reason that some BIC pens have a hole in their cap is to prevent the cap from completely obstructing the airway, if accidentally inhaled,” the corporate writes on his website. “This is requested by the international safety standards ISO11540, apart from in cases where the cap is considered too large to be a choking hazard.”
Nearly 100 people die in the US every year from choking on pen lids, a number that used to be higher, Matt Payton from The Independent reported in 2016. Other pen manufacturers have followed suit & added larger holes to the top of their pens too, he added.
Not impressed by that admirable application of technology to our daily lives? Well, how about that tiny “breather hole“ in airplane windows, which has important job of managing the tension that builds-up between internal & external pressure of an airplane?
And while you’re at it, there’s also a simple but an awesome reason that plane windows always have rounded edges. Enjoy: