"The medics used the [super glue] spray, stopped the bleeding.... And many, many lives were saved."
In 1942 Harry Coover (b. 1919), a chemist working for Eastman-Kodak, was seeking a way to manufacture ultra-clear plastic gunsights. The group of chemicals his team were investigating, the cyanoacrylates, proved not very useful. They were very sticky, and contact with even a tiny amount of water (such as is found on virtually every surface) caused them to bind.
It was not until several years later, when he revisited the cyanoacrylates while working on another project, that Coover realized they had stumbled upon something special. The prototype glue stuck together everything they tried, without requiring any heat or pressure. The substance, marketed as "Eastman 910"in 1958, became popularly known as super glue.
As well as being a powerful and useful adhesive, super glue has been put to a number of other uses. During the Vietnam War it was used extensively as an emergency medical intervention. Because it bonded skin and tissue so efficiently, it was used to seal wounds and stop bleeding quickly, without the need for time-consuming stitches.
Crime scene investigators also use it as a way of revealing fingerprints. The object to be printed is "fumed" by placing a few drops of the super glue on a heater inside a sealed tank. Gas produced by the heated super glue sticks to the oils left by the fingerprint, making it visible to the naked eye.