Hudson Maxim, American Inventor and Chemist
Hudson Maxim (February 3, 1853 - May 6, 1927), was an American inventor and chemist who invented a variety of explosives, including smokeless gunpowder. Smokeless powder is the name given to a propellant used in firearms and artillery which produce negligible smoke when fired, unlike the older gunpowder (black powder) which they replaced. The basis of the term smokeless is that the combustion products are mainly gaseous. During World War I, Maxim wrote a book, Defenseless America, in which he pointed out the inferiority of the American defense system and the vulnerability of the country against attacks of foreign aggressors. During his experimental career, he lost his left hand in a mercury fulminate explosion in 1912. He appeared as King Neptune during the first two years of the Miss America Pageant in 1921 and 1922, arriving on a great float and presenting the trophy to the winner. He died in 1927 at the age of 74.
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