10 Things That Were Invented Accidentally

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Updated on 7 Apr, 2018 at 5:15 pm


Yes, accidents do happen. Sometimes, terrible accidents claim hundreds or even thousands of lives just because a few made a simple mistake. The bright side, of course, is that there have been several accidents in history that have done the world a huge favor. Here, we are presenting a list of accidental but revolutionary inventions.

1. Penicillin

This accidental invention occurred in 1928 when Alexander Fleming was researching on a dish filled with staphylococci. Amid the research, this biologist went on a holiday trip but after returning he noticed that the dishes he had left out absent-minded were sprouting fungus. The growth of staphylococci was stopped and thus the fungus turned into the basic form of penicillin.



2. Super Glue

It was in 1942 when Dr. Harry Coover was trying to create transparent gun sights but he found that the material on which he was working was too sticky. Soon, he realized that this material can form a very strong bond without using pressure or heat. Later, this potentially useful product was converted into the revolutionary glue.



3. Ice-cream cone

At this particularly sweltering 1904 World’s Fair, a stall selling ice cream was doing such good business that they were quickly running out of dishes. The neighboring stall wasn’t doing so well, selling Zalabia – a kind of wafer-thin waffle from Persia – and the stall owner came up with the idea of rolling them into cone shapes and popping the ice cream on top. Thus the ice cream cone was born – and it doesn’t look like dying out any time soon.



4. Potato chips

Potato chips were invented by a chef. But they were not invented as a new food. They were invented because the chef was getting irritated with one of his customers. You see, one of his customers kept on sending back his potatoes, claiming they weren’t thin enough or fried long enough. The chef angrily sliced the potatoes paper-thin, fried them for a long time, and sent them to the customer. To his dismay, the customer loved them and asked for more!



5. Champagne

Champagne, the drink without which no celebration would be complete, is also regarded as one of the inventions that happened by accident. A Benedictine monk spent two years unsuccessfully trying to make bubbling wine that led to the discovery of champagne. It was born out of loaded bubbles with carbon dioxide which became a popular drink as time passed by.




6. LSD

Hofmann, a Swiss chemist, was researching the synthesis of a lysergic acid compound, LSD-25 when he inadvertently absorbed a bit through his fingertips. Intrigued by the stimulating effects on his perception, Hofmann decided further exploration was warranted. Three days later, he ingested 250 micrograms1 of LSD, embarking on the first full-fledged acid trip.



7. Pacemaker

During the late 1950s Wilson Greatbatch, a University of Buffalo Professor, was working with cardiologists to find a way to record human heart sounds. One day, while constructing an experimental machine for this purpose, he decided he needed to install 1 10,000-ohm resistor. Once he had installed the ‘wrong’ resistor, Greatbatch checked the circuit. There was a pulse, then a second’s silence, then another pulse. It sounded just like a heartbeat. I said ‘wait a minute – this is the pacemaker!” the inventor later recalled.



8. X-ray

Okay, yes, X-rays are a phenomenon of the natural world and thus can’t be created. But shhh! The story of their discovery is a fascinating one of incredible chance. In 1895, German physicist Wilhelm Roentgen was performing a routine experiment involving cathode rays, when he noticed that a piece of fluorescent cardboard was lighting up from across the room. A thick screen had been placed between his cathode emitter and the radiated cardboard, proving that particles of light were passing through solid objects. Amazed, Roentgen quickly found that brilliant images could be produced with this incredible radiation—the first of their kind being a skeletal image of his wife’s hand.



9. Microwave oven

The idea of using microwave energy to cook food was accidentally discovered by Percy LeBaron Spencer of the Raytheon Company when he found that radar waves had melted a candy bar in his pocket. Experiments showed that microwave heating could raise the internal temperature of many foods far more rapidly than a conventional oven.



10. Viagra

If you’re someone with erectile dysfunction, you should thank the scientists and researchers of Merthyr Tydfil, a town in Wales. In 1992, they did some clinical trials to test a new drug that was originally intended to treat hypertension. The trials failed miserably as those involved did not see their blood pressure levels drop to normal. But as BP levels were up, they also noticed something else going up — you know what. The project would have been dumped had this side effect not risen to be noticed. Today, this drug is known as “viagra,” a gravity-defying drug used to produce a different kind of steel rod.