Many inventions and discoveries around the world have changed our world. Certain daily life useful inventions and discoveries were mere accidents. The famous Kellogg’s corn flakes were also an accidental discovery. Microwave oven and matches are also accidental inventions. Such products have influenced people’s life tremendously in some way or the other. Here goes a list of ten amazing accidental inventions and discoveries:
10. Corn Flakes
Kellogg’s Corn Flakes has been a famous snack for more than a decade. Many do not know that corn flakes were discovered by accident by Dr. John Harvey Kellogg and W.K. Kellogg. The corn flakes’ accidental discovery dates back to 19th century, when a team of Seventh-day Adventists began to develop new food to adhere to the vegetarian diet recommended by the church. Members of the group experimented with different grains such as wheat, barley, rice, oats and corn. Dr. John Harvey Kellogg believed that spicy and sweet foods increase the passion.
On August 8, 1894, the brothers by accident left some cooked wheat to sit while they went to attend some pressing matters at the sanitarium. When they returned, they found that the wheat had gone stale. Being on a strict budget, they decided to process it further, hoping to obtain long sheets of the dough but instead they found flakes.
9. Ice Cream Cone
The invention of cone was an accidental idea. Before the cone was invented, paper, glass and metal cones, cups, and dishes were used during the 19th century in France, Germany, and Britain for eating ice cream. Although, Italo Marchiony is credited to the invention of the cone in 1896, a similar creation was independently brought to notice at the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair by Ernest A. Hamwi. Hamwi was a Syrian concessionaire who sold waffles (zalabis) near an ice-cream shop. Due to the popularity of ice cream in the region, the shopkeeper ran out of ice cream dishes to serve. Hamwi saw a solution to the problem and quickly rolled a waffle to the ice cream. Thus, the first edible waffle cones were born. Surprisingly, two ice cream salesmen independently invented and patented edible containers for ice cream.
Tea is the most popular accidental discovery in the world. It is often accepted that the first cup of tea was a result of an unexpected result that occurred to the Chinese emperor Shen Nong in 2737 B.C. It is evident that Shen Nong liked to drink water after boiling. One day, the herbalist and emperor on a long trip to a distant region stopped to rest and drink some water. A servant began to boil water for the emperor and a dead tea leaf from a tea bush fell into the boiling water. The water turned brownish-yellow color, but this was unnoticed and presented to the emperor. The emperor drank it and found it refreshing. This is when the cha (tea) was born.
X-ray is one of the most amazing and exceptional invention in the history of medical science and the world. The invention of X-ray wasn’t intentional. The German physicist Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen in 1895 accidentally observed in his Wurzburg, Germany, lab, where he was testing whether cathode rays could pass through glass when he noticed a glow coming from a nearby chemically coated screen. The scientist named the rays as X-rays because of their unknown nature. Today, X-ray is one of the greatest inventions in the history that has given ultimate benefits to the medical world.
We all know that plastic is part of almost everything today and its creation was an accidental find by Leo Hendrik Baekeland. Before plastic was found, people used clay, rubber from trees, glass and other organic materials to hold things. The first fully synthetic plastic was invented in 1907 by Leo Hendrik Baekeland when he accidentally created Bakelite. Before Bakeland, many other scientists like Charles Goodyear and Charles Schonbein have accidentally created similar polymers but the first fully synthetic plastic were from Bakeland. Today, plastic has become a life-saving product in medicine, part of aerospace and engineering. It should also be noted that plastics are non-degradable and has caused pollution to our environment.
5. Laughing Gas as Anesthesia
Horace Wells is attributed to the use of anesthesia in dentistry, specifically nitrous oxide (or laughing gas). Before its use as anesthesia, nitrous oxide was strictly a party toy as it made people howl like hyenas. In 1844, a friend of the dentist took too much of laughing gas and gashed his leg. The friend didn’t realize that he had hurt himself. The laughing gas as an early anesthesia was born. The substance was never patented because Wells felt that its usage as a painless substance should be as free as air.
The English chemist John Walker is responsible for the accidental invention of the fascinating matches that has changed our lives to a great extent. In 1826, Walker invented the first friction match when his curiosity to develop means to obtain fire easily. Already, several substances known to catch fire were known but none of them were capable of moving fire to the slow-burning substance like wood. One day Walker had prepared a lighting mixture, a match was dipped into it caught fire by an accidental friction upon the hearth, this is how the first friction match was born.
Percy Spencer, a radar engineer is responsible for the invention of the microwave oven who accidentally cooked a candy bar in his pocket. Spencer was working for a company known as Raytheon, developing microwave radar transmitters during World War II. In 1945, when working on a radar set, a candy bar in his pocket started to melt by the microwaves. He learnt that this technique can be experimented further to cook foods by controlling the microwave. He then went on to become the first person to create a working microwave oven and popcorn was the first food he cooked in it.
Super Glue is an incredible substance that can fix any household breakage and it was an accidental discovery by Dr. Harry Coover. In 1942, Dr. Coover was working to clear plastic to be used in gun sights but instead created what we call today as Super Glue. One of his formulations did not fit for gun sights but was an extremely strong and quick adhesive. Surprisingly, Coover abandoned the project as it didn’t well for his current project. This mixture was cyanoacrylate and Coover started to test the chemical again nine years later in 1958 at Eastman Kodak. This time Coover realized that the product had great potential to fix things and was put on the market in 1958 by Eastman Kodak. Initially, it was known as “Eastman #910” and was later re-named to Super Glue.
Penicillin discovered accidentally in 1928 by Scottish scientist Alexander Fleming which changed the course of medicine. Penicillin is a group of antibiotics that help in fighting against bacterial infections caused by staphylococci and streptococci. In 1928, Fleming was experimenting with the influenza virus in the Laboratory of the Inoculation Department at St. Mary’s Hospital in London. Fleming was often described as a careless lab technician, who accidentally left staphylococcus culture plate when he went on a vacation for two weeks. When he returned, he found a mold had developed on the culture plate that prevented the growth of staphylococci. Hence, the life-changing antibiotic was born.