French physician and inventor René Théophile Hyacinthe Laennec sealed his place in history with a number of important contributions to the medical field. A pulmonary disease pioneer, he introduced the diagnostic method known as mediate auscultation and invented the device that no modern doctor can live without, the stethoscope.

Military Communications System

Silver Screen actress Hedy Lamarr (born in 1914) enjoyed one of the more memorable careers in Hollywood. Her name still ranks among the brightest lights in the history of movies. But what many people may not know is that she helped the Allies win World War II.

Controlled Drug Delivery

Years after receiving a Gilbert Chemistry Set as a young boy, Robert S. Langer is still committed to learning and discovering in chemistry. The only active member of all three U.S. National Academies – Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine – Langer holds 320 patents, alone or with others, in the fields of biomedical and chemical engineering, biomaterials, and controlled drug delivery.

The Pocket Diaper

Chelsea Lanmon’s inspiration for her first and most prominent invention was completely practical.  At the age of five, she would help her mother change her baby brother Corbin’s diapers.  Chelsea knew first-hand the various paraphernalia and steps that this entailed, and she resolved to create a more efficient system.  Her solution was the “Pocket Diaper.”

Improvements to the carbon-filament used for light bulbs

Lewis H. Latimer was born in Chelsea, Massachusetts in 1848. Along with Granville T. Woods, Latimer was one of the first major African American inventors. He first worked as an assistant to Alexander Graham Bell.

The Cyclotron

After earning a BS from his home state's University of South Dakota (1922) and a PhD in Physics from Yale University (1925), Ernest Orlando Lawrence joined the Physics faculty at the University of California at Berkeley (1927). Here, he soon invented one of the most essential apparatus of nuclear physics: the cyclotron (granted patent #1,948,384 in 1931).

Vehicle Turn Indicator & Full-Stop Signal

It wasn’t an engineer, an auto mechanic, or a scientist who came up with two of the most indispensable early automobile innovations that are now included on every car today. Rather, it was a Hollywood starlet, Florence Lawrence, who created the first turn indicator as well as the full-stop signal activated by applying the footbrake.

Computer Tomography (CT) Scanner

Robert S. Ledley, inventor of the full-body Computer Tomography (CT) scanner, was born in 1926 in New York City. He studied dentistry, receiving a DDS from the New York College of Dentistry in 1948 and went on to earn an MA degree in theoretical physics from Columbia University in 1950.

“The Gripper”

Inventors often speak of a phenomenon that they call the “aha moment” – the moment an ingenious solution to a problem pops into their heads with sudden clarity and certainty. One never knows when an “aha” moment is going to come, but for inventor Nicki Lehrer, hers came while she was making covers for her schoolbooks. She was 11 years old at the time.


Differential and Integral Calculus

Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz was born in Leipzig, Germany in 1646. His father died when he was just five years old. He was raised by his mother, whose religious and moral beliefs fostered his interest in philosophy. He taught himself to read Latin by age twelve and started studying Greek. In grade school, he learned about Aristotle’s logic and theory of categorizing knowledge, but he was dissatisfied with what he was learning and began working on his own ideas for ordering logical truths. This would later develop into his ability to perform difficult mathematical proofs.

Machine Vision Technology

Jerome H. Lemelson (1923-1997) was one of the most prolific American inventors of all time. His inventions, for which he amassed more than 500 patents, include essential parts of dozens of products in common use today, including the VCR, camcorder, Walkman®, cordless phone, fax machine, data and word processing systems, and industrial robots.


David Lennox was born in Detroit, Michigan on April 15, 1855. He was the son of an expert railroad mechanic, and it was clear early on that Lennox had inherited his father's mechanical ability. He quickly became interested in tools and machinery and discovering how things worked.

The World's Smallest Keyboard

David Levy of Manhattan Beach, California, received his doctoral degree in Mechanical Engineering at MIT in 1997 and has been inventing since the age of 9. His inventions range from mechanical to medical, but perhaps the most notable is his "Micro-Miniature Ergonomic Keypad," the world's smallest "full-size" keyboard.

Toys & Games

In the past twenty years, independent inventor Richard C. Levy has co-developed over 200 toys and games, including one of the most popular toys of recent years, the Furby.

"Heavy Water"

Gilbert Newton Lewis, one of the most influential and admired scientists of the twentieth century, was a pioneer in both chemistry and physics.

Advances in Heavier-Than-Air-Flight

Aviation pioneer Otto Lilienthal designed and built several novel, unpowered gliders with which he was able to demonstrate the concept of heavier-than-air flight. Subsequent to his series of well-publicized experiments, engineers were able to build on his findings and research methods on a course toward developing the world’s first manned aircraft.

Integrated Optical Add/Drop Filter

A team of Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) graduate students conquered a major challenge of high-capacity optical communications by inventing a device that can splice a single signal into or out of the many that are being transmitted together along a fiberoptic line.

Tha National Vietnam Veterans Memorial

The most visited public American artwork of the 20th century is the National Vietnam Veterans Memorial, designed by Maya Lin.

“Buoying Device”

The 16th President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln, is known for many accomplishments, not the least of which is guiding the nation through the Civil War. One of his achievements that is little known is his success as an inventor. He is the only U.S. President to have ever received a patent, which was granted on March 10, 1849 for a device for “buoying vessels over shoals."

The Kiddie Stool

Jeanie Low of Houston, Texas created her best known invention, the Kiddie Stool, while she was still in kindergarten.


Bacterial infections affect hundreds of thousands of people in the United States every year, and in some cases, they are serious, even fatal. Though scientists have developed a number of effective antibiotics to fight off harmful bacteria, many of these microscopic organisms have developed resistance to such medications. This, combined with the fact that developing antibiotic drugs is extremely expensive and resource-intensive for drug companies, means that the overall effectiveness of this class of medications could be poised to decline.

Biofuel Advances

Biologist, inventor, and engineer Lee Rybeck Lynd has devoted his career to developing processes for improving the feasibility of using biofuels as a mainstream, alternate energy source.