On this day in 1942, the patent was issued for a car that was to be (at least partly) made from soybeans. And it was the idea of none other than Henry Ford. Plus: Steven Paul Judd is an Oklahoma-based artist of Kiowa/Choctaw descent, and last month he made a portrait of Sitting Bull using just over 20,000 black and white dice.

Henry Ford And His Soybean Car (A Moment of Science)

Soybean Car (The Henry Ford Museum)

This Amazing Sitting Bull Portrait Made from 20,000 Dice (Twisted Sifter)

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Today in 1942 the patent was issued for a car made of soybeans.

This was the idea of Henry Ford, of motor company fame.

There was a metal shortage in the 1940s, which was bad news for someone who manufactured cars for a living, and so Ford started to think about alternatives to steel in cars.

His idea was to save the metal for the engines and frames, and build the exterior panels out of a plastic that included soybeans.

We aren’t 100 percent sure whether this was a soybean-based plastic or a more traditional plastic that happened to have some soybean fiber in it.

But either way, it became known as the soybean car. Which was fine with Ford, who was very pro-soy, a big drinker of soy milk, in fact.

He thought that his idea would create a big new market for soybean farmers.

The cars were significantly lighter than metal ones, and, though scientists aren’t sure this was really the case, Ford thought they would be safer, too.

One thing that was certain about the soybean car: it was a moot point.

While Ford created a prototype in the early 1940s and even showed it off at a festival in Dearborn, Michigan, in 1941, World War II put a halt to all auto production.

After the war ended, the automaker had moved on to other things.

Soybean farmers did too. They ended up finding plenty of new outlets for their crops – just not car doors.

There are lots of ways to make visual art.

There are paints of all kinds, plus markers, pencils, crayons, knitting, origami, sculpture, papier mache, etc.

How about art made from dice?

Steven Paul Judd is an Oklahoma-based artist of Kiowa/Choctaw descent, and last month he made a portrait of Sitting Bull using just over 20,000 black and white dice.

I would love to learn to do that, but every time I’m around 20,000 dice I try to play a really big game of Yahtzee.