There are some invention which happen by chance, say serendipity and not deliberately. Like the scientist saw in his dreams a snake was trying to touch or bite its tail; and that led to the discovery of benzene ring! Of course it takes a brilliant mind even to invent things by serendipity or by chance!
Given below are my favorite top serendipitous innovations.
1. Percy L. Spencer invents the microwave!
Percy was an engineer at Raytheon after his service in navy and he was always known as an electronic genius. One fine day in 1945, he was fiddling with a magnetron which emitted microwave radiations and used in radar array. He felt a strange sensation in his pants, somewhat sizzling too and he searched pockets to find the chocolate bar has melted! With the genius brain he had, he immediately understood the power of microwave radiation and how to utilize its potential! What happened next was like in movies! You could eat micro waved food!
2. Ira Remsen and Constantin Fahlberg inventing saccharin!
One sunny morning in 1879 at Johns Hopkins University, Ira Remsen and Constantin Fahlberg, sat down to eat. Fahlberg committed a big mistake which led him to this invention! He forgot to wash his hands before eating which could bring him death, but he somehow noticed a very sweet flavor during eating. That was due to artificial sweetener. Though it was just Fahlberg’s name which appeared in the patent, but the duo had their finding together. What happened then? Pink packets containing saccharin on tables everywhere!
3. Richand James invented slinky!
It was an earnest effort to research how springs could keep sensitive instrument kept on board from rocking themselves to collision and destruction. That is when in 1943 this navy engineer, Richard James knocked against one of his own prototypes over. Instead of crashing down against the floor, it gracefully sprang upwards and then to his bewildered amazement, righted itself! Isn’t it so pointless, so nimble, yet so slinky? This spring became one of the most beloved and cool, sometimes goofy toy for many children across the world. Though kids usually ruin them ultimately by getting it all twisted up, but that did not lead to a decrease in sale of this toy. Already 300 million sold across this planet!
3. Harry Coover inventing superglue!
Who could ever tell that our life saving superglue was nothing but a miserable failure saddening researchers?
In 1942, one day, Dr. Harry Coover of Eastman-Kodak Laboratories in a messy moment realized that a substance which he had created, cyanoacrylate was a miserable failure. He was hoping to invent something for new precision gun slight, but it was not at all useful for that purpose. This substance stuck on everything it touched.
What happened next? It was all nicely forgotten, till the next six years. An amazing incident happened after all these years. Dr. Harry was reaching on his new design for airplane canopies where he stumbled against the same cyanoacrylate and was in some gooey messy situation. This time Coover had a plan in mind. He and his fellow researchers observed that cyanoacrylate formed a strong cohesive bond between object without any heat application. This incredible feature led him to slap a patent on this discovery.
16 years later, in 1958after he first got stuck, cyanoacrylate was found packed and kept in shelved across stores!
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4. Kutol products and play-doh!
Do you know how Play-Doh was used in its early days? It was ironically created to serve as a cleaning product! This paste was discovered for a treatment for filthy wallpaper, and was even marketed as such.
The company headed for bankruptcy not because this particular cleaner did not fulfilled its purpose as a cleaner, but because school children used it in arts and crafts. So, what was the next step by the company?
They removed its cleaning features and adding some delightful colors and fresh scent to this Play-Doh and then Kutol spun this wallpaper saver compound into one of the best iconic toys for children of all times. It was a turning point indeed for Kutol. The product that was proving to be a bankruptcy, turned to earn mega success for this company.
5. Roy Plunkett inventing Teflon!
While hoping to create a new variety of chlorofluorocarbons, chemist Roy Plunkett inadvertently invented Teflon back in 1938. While experimenting, a canister was supposed to be filled with gas in a refrigeration chamber, but what he found was few mystic white flakes and no trace of gas. This event intrigued his curiosity. These new white flakes proved to be a fantastic substance with very high melting point and an awesome lubricant. It found its first application in military gear and then was applied against your non-stick cookware. So the next time, you make the perfect omelet do remember to thank this chemist.
Do you know about,” Inventions in chemical engineering which has saved the human race!”
Wilson Greatbatch and pacemaker
This person realized that he made a mistake when he chose a 1-megaohm variety, instead of 10,000-ohm resistor out of a box for using it on a heart recording prototype. Wilson Greatbatch found out that this led to a strange thing. This new circuit produced signals that sounded for 1.8 milliseconds precisely and then paused for just a second; which is a dead ringer for a human heart! This assistant professor at University of Buffalo then realized that this current might be able to regulate a pulse which could override an imperfect heartbeat of an ailing heart. Before this life saving discovery, pacemakers were as big as a television set which could be attached to a patient’s body temporarily; but now it was small enough to tuck into one’s chest!
Wilhelm Roentgen and X-Rays!
In 1985 a German scientist Wilhelm Roentgen was doing his routine experiments with cathode ray where he noticed that particles of lights passed through solid objects and brilliant images could be formed with it. The first ever X-ray picture was of his wife’s hand.