For those who think that necessity is the mother of all inventions, think again. You would be amazed to know how most of the major inventions were born out of pure accidents – from the snacks you eat to the things you use in your mundane, daily life.
Remember how Professor Utopium accidently put the dreaded “Chemical X” to his perfect ingredients of “sugar, spice and everything nice” and ended up creating Powerpuff Girls? Well, the inventions listed below were, too, created by complete accidents. From coming up with the formula of coke while trying to create a medicine for headaches to accidently inventing post it notes while creating a strong adhesive, these inventions would make you love the strokes of fate.
As you can see, fate truly does work in mysterious ways. Don’t you just love serendipity?
1. X Ray
It was the year 1895 and German physicist Wilhelm Conrad Rontgen was experimenting through glass cathode ray tubes when he observed something absurd. Rontgen noticed that the tube glowed even though it was surrounded by a black cardboard and was kept across the room. He realized that some kind of radiation must be at play for this to occur and therefore named the phenomenon “X Rays” where “x” stood for the unknown and unexplained nature of the radiation. He later captured his first X-Ray image which was that of his wife’s left hand. Her baffled wife exclaimed upon laying eyes on her skeletal image, “I have seen my own death!”
While surgeries have become increasingly common in today’s day and age, there was a time when surgeries were excruciatingly painful that patients chose to rather commit suicide than bear this drudgery. However, it was only when Dr. Horace Wells made a discovery that changed the course of surgeries forever. In 1844, Dr. Horace Wells attended an exhibition where audience members made fool of themselves while being intoxicated by laughing gas or nitrous oxide. On seeing one of the members injuring his leg, Wells asked him if he was hurt but the person surprisingly remarked that he didn’t feel anything! Wells was soon convinced that nitrous oxide could be used as an anesthetic. However, many labeled this invention as a “humbug” and were quick to dismiss it. It was only after a few years when it was realized that ether was a perfect anesthetic for surgeries.
Who would have thought while casually sipping on Coke that it was, in fact, originally invented with the motive of curing headaches. In 1886, Dr. John Pumberton was trying to invent a medicine to cure headaches but instead ended up making a deliciously addictive drink. Initially being sold at only the drug store for five pence per glass, the Coke became so popular that it began to be sold in bottles and became a refreshing beverage for children and adults alike.
Sometimes known as a “careless lab technician”, Sir Alexander Fleming was returning from a two week vacation when noticed something rather absurd on one of his petri dishes. He observed the growth of a mysterious mold and noticed the existing bacteria in the dish did not grow where the mold grew. This made him realize that it helped keeping the unwanted bacteria at bay. Thirteen years after the discovery and with the help of a few researchers who devised a way to come up with a mold that grew better – anti-biotic medicines were created.
5. Ink Jet Printer
The principle behind inkjet printers is attributed to a canon engineer whose discovery led to revolutionizing the world. As ludicrous as ir sounds, the engineer mistakenly put his smolderingly hot iron rod on his ink, and was soon dumbfounded when the pen began ejecting ink moments later. It was not long before this principle was applied to invent inkjet printers and thus, life became a whole lot easier!
6. Potato Chips
It was 1853 when George Crum was employed as a chef in Saratoga Springs, New York. One particular customer got on to his nerves when kept rejecting his order of French fries as they were “too thick for his liking”. Annoyed and irked, Crum deliberately cooked the fires extremely thin and crisp in order to rile up the customer who happened to find them scrumptiously delectable. It was not long after when snack time became much more appetizing, courtesy the potato chips.
7. Chocolate chip cookies
We all love the awesomeness of chocolate chip cookies – to me they are quite similar to the taste of heaven with a sprinkle of rainbows. However, if it wasn’t for Ruth Wakefield, the world might have been deprived of tasting these delicious delights! In 1930, Wakefield was making a batch of chocolate cookies when she realized that she had run out of baker’s chocolate. She used broken pieces of Nestle’s chocolate as a substitute, expecting that they would melt or absorb in the dough. However, on removing the batch of cookies from the oven, she realized that she had ended up inventing “chocolate chip cookies” and that is how the world was able to taste these pieces of heaven!
8. Corn Flakes
Thanks to the forgetfulness of Will Keith Kellogg , our breakfast meal was rapidly revolutionized for the best. While assisting his brother at the Battle Creek Sanitorium in Michigan, Kellog was responsible to make bread dough for the patients one day when he left the major ingredient, boiled wheat, sitting out for hours until it became stale. However, Kellogg baked it anyway but ended up receiving toasted flakes of dough which became highly popular with the patients and Kellogg son decided to produce these flakes on a large scale.
9. Post It Notes
In 1968, Spencer Silver was trying to create a super strong adhesive but ended up making a rather weak, reusable glue. He realized that that the glue could successfully hold a paper together, but it could be pulled off just as easily. After a long twelve years, Arthur Fry came up with a brainwave. Continuously frustrated with losing the page marker in his hymn book while singing, it became increasingly impossible for him to keep record of the hymns. He soon proposed the idea of using Silver’s adhesive to keep the slips of paper safely stuck in his hymn book. After coming up with a coating that did not render any damage to whatever the adhesive laden paper was stuck on, Post It Notes were officially launched.
Who would have thought that when an English pharmacist, John Walker was stirring a mixture of chemicals, he would end up creating matches instead? On noticing an uncanny dried lump at the end of the stick he used to stir the mixture, he immediately tried to scrape the substance away by dragging it along the floor. However, the amalgamation of antimony sulfide, potassium chlorate, gum and starch was enough to react and the stick ignited – thus commencing the birth of strike-able matches.