What links key inventions such as teflon, synthetic dye, microwave ovens…and the slinky? Answer: they were all invented by accident.
This video I stumbled upon recently includes these serendipitous by-products in its showcase of 10 accidental inventions, all set to a rather toe-tapping soundtrack.
Other major creations that happened by chance, which aren’t in the video but also deserve a mention, include dynamite. This was invented by Swedish chemist Alfred Nobel, whose efforts to stabilise nitroglycerin, an explosive liquid, led to the discovery of dynamite – but which unfortunately killed his younger brother and others in 1864.
In one sense, though, a number of scientific discoveries are made by chance. That’s just the nature of science – experiments can yield surprising results sometimes. Unfortunately, though, scientists are often under pressure to make their research yield concrete results that will bring a financial return. But it’s blue-sky thinking that can bring the most exciting, ground-breaking findings.
Here’s hoping that this kind of research isn’t throttled too much, so that we have many more innovative, accidental inventions coming our way. Along with things like the slinky.