Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Divine Inspiration

Today's Globe and Mail carried a death notice for a Lawrence Abello SJ, a Jesuit priest who passed away on January 22 at the age of 80. According to his obit, Abello earned a PhD in physics from Wayne State University and was an inventor. In 1975 he obtained US and Canadian patents for a device for enabling a gasoline engine to run on hydrogen. His patents were assigned to the Canadian Jesuit Missions of Toronto.

The notion that a priest might be interested in patenting an invention is not that unusual. There are many examples in the patent record. Some have even achieved fame from their inventions. For example, Rev. Julius A. Nieuwland of the University of Norte Dame is an inductee in the National Inventors Hall of Fame. Nieuwland, a chemist, invented and patented the first synthetic rubber, neoprene, in 1931.

The California and Chicago provinces of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) own several patents; US5054310, related to ultrasonic beams; US4970907, transducer holder; and US4403916, wind turbine.