After losing his sight to smallpox in 1759 at the age of 2, John Gough developed a heightened sense of touch. The budding naturalist soon learned to identify plants by feel, touching their hairs with his lower lip and their stamens and pistils with his tongue. So when as an adult he quickly stretched a piece of natural rubber and felt its sudden warmth on his lip—and its subsequent coolness as it relaxed—he gained what he considered the most direct and convincing proof of a curious phenomenon.
He described his observations in 1802, providing the first record, in English at least, of what’s now known as the elastocaloric effect. It’s