25 Accidental Inventions That Changed The World

Here is an excerpt from an article by Sameen, featured at the list25 website. To read the complete list and check out others, please click here.

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You may not realize it, but many things you use every day came about completely by accident! That straw you’re sipping out of? Accident. The Velcro you used to fasten your son’s shoes? Accident. The dose of Penicillin that saved your neighbor’s life? Accident. While we’ve shared other unique invention lists with you, today we are back to focus on inventions that were completely unintentional. Trust us; you’ll want to check out these 25 Accidental Inventions That Changed The World!

[Here are five.]

#1 Penicillin

While studying staphylococcus, microbiologist Alexander Fleming added some of the bacteria to petri dishes before leaving for vacation. He had expected the bacteria to grow, but upon returning, he was surprised to find a mold growing in the dishes instead. A close inspection found that the mold released a byproduct which inhibited the growth of the staph, giving birth to the first antibiotic, penicillin.



#8 Velcro

Swiss engineer George de Mestral was on a hunting trip with his dog in 1948 when he noticed how burrs would stick to its fur. Eventually, he managed to replicate the effect in his laboratory, but it wasn’t until NASA came along in the 1960’s and began using the material in its space program that this “zipperless zipper” was really popularized.



# 18 Vulcanized Rubber

Charles Goodyear had spent ages trying to find a way to make rubber resistant to heat and cold. After a number of failed attempts, he finally stumbled across a mixture that worked. Before turning out the lights one evening, he accidentally spilled some rubber, sulfur, and lead onto a stove, resulting in a mixture that charred and hardened but could still be used in shoes and tires.


# 17 Plastic

In the early 1900’s, shellac was the material of choice when it came to insulation, but due to the fact that it was made from Southeast Asian beetles, the material was not cheap to import. For this reason, chemist Leo Hendrik Baekeland thought he might be able to make some money by producing an alternative. What he came up with, however, was a moldable material that could be heated to extremely high temperatures without being distorted, also known as plastic.


#25 The Potato Chip

In 1853, George Crum, a chef in New York, accidentally invented potato chips when an annoying patron kept sending his french fried potatoes back to the kitchen because they were soggy. In an attempt to teach the customer a lesson, Crum sliced them extra thin, fried them to a crisp, and drowned them in salt. To his surprise, however, the complaining customer actually liked what would become the very first serving of potato chips.

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Here is a direct link to the complete list.


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