Captain Christopher Columbus peered through the South American underbrush and was astonished to see a pair of natives bouncing a rubber ball. Three centuries later Poet Percy Bysshe Shelley could make his erasures with a new-fangled device called a rubber. Two generations after that a Mr. Farris was collecting rubber seeds from Brazil to plant in Ceylon, East India and Polynesia, and Chemist Greville Williams had just discovered that rubber and isoprene were polymers. Then a Frenchman and an American made the plant almost indispensable...

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