A few weeks ago, an aeronautical engineer named Richard Whitcomb passed away. Mr. Whitcomb was credited with solving one of the most perplexing problems that faced aviation engineers-the sound barrier. Even though aircraft seemed to have enough power, they were not able to achieve supersonic flight because of the increased wind resistance.

Whitcomb's solution in 1951 was to taper the fuselage to resemble the shape of a Coca-Cola bottle. That design dramatically reduced drag, and within three years, military aircraft could achieve supersonic speeds.

Who could have foreseen that the Coca-Cola bottle would have such an important role in a major scientific achievement.