Sunday, August 25, 2013

Fortunate Accidents

"Annals of science", it seems, "is littered with blunder, mishap and blind alley made good". The Independent came up with a few interesting examples:

  • Upsalite - newly synthesised magnesium carbonate material - MgCO3 - unrivaled capacity to absorb water - potential uses - domestic humidity controls, pharma factories, electronics to oil-spill clean-ups - discovered accidentally when a reaction was left bubbling over a long weekend.
  • Penicillin - Alexander Flemings Staphylococcus cultures were invaded by mould.
  • Pacemaker - Wilson Greatbatch fitted the wrong resistor to his heart-recording machine
  • Aspartame (artifricial sweetener) - A scientist researching coal tar failed to wash his hands before he ate!
  • Post-It - brainchild of a failed glue-inventor

Where can I find a more comprehensive list of such 'happy blunders'?


* Chance Breakthroughs - 'The Independent', London

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