This Wednesday is the birthday of Frenchman Nicola Appert, pioneer of food preservation. A confectioner by trade, in his mid-forties Appert began experimenting with ways to keep foodstuffs airtight - and to thereby preserve them. This was in the late 1700's. His method was eventually patented and he went on to open & operate the world's first bottling facility. This bottling plant was later burned in the war. The use of tin cans as a means of keeping food from spoiling wasn't really widespread until the mid 1800's, along with the invention of the can opener. Roughly a century later, during WW2, the U.S. military invented a pocket-sized can opener, the P-38. The P-38 folded and fit easily in soldiers' pockets. (The P-38 can opener is not to be confused with the Walther P-38, a WW2-era German handgun, or the Lockheed P-38 Lightning, a WW2-era American fighter airplane.) At 38mm in length, it is regarded by many as the essence of military concision.