Some inventions happen after years of perseverance and hard work and then there are a few inventions which just happen by chance. It does not mean that these inventions were not backed by hard work but the inventions were accidental nonetheless. Here are the top 10-
X-Rays by Wilhelm Roentgen
German physicist Wilhelm Roentgen in 1895 was working on an experiment that involved cathode rays and that is when he noticed a across the room a fluorescent cardboard piece lighting up. A thickened screen present between the cardboard and the cathode emitter picked up the images proving that light particles were travelling through solid objects. The first X ray that was taken was that of his wife’s hand.
Velcro by George de Mestral
George de Mestral, a Swiss engineer, was out hunting with his dog when he found that burrs were sticking on to his dog’s fur and his socks too. He checked under the microscope to find that the burrs had “hook” like structures that stuck to fur and fabric and this led him to experiment for years and find a nylon that was what we call Velcro.
Pacemaker by Wilson Greatbatch
Assistant professor Wilson Greatbatch at the University of Buffalo accidently used a 1 megaohm resistor on a prototype of heart recording instead of using a 10,000 ohm one. The circuit thus produced created a signal that went for 1.8 milliseconds and paused for a second. Wilson had a brainwave that if this current was used to regulate pulse it would override an imperfect pulse of the heart in those who were ill. This small sized pacemaker scored over the external huge pacemakers that were present at that time.
Bakelite by Leo Baekeland
Leo Baekeland, a Belgian chemist in 1907 found an easy way to insulate wires instead of using shellac which was obtained from poop of the Asian beetle. He found polyoxybenzylmethylenglycolanhydride, now known as Bakelite, a synthetic plastic that could be moulded into desired colour and shape and which could withstand high temperatures and daily wear and tear. Thus Bakelite came to be used in industrial designs, manufacturing and in jewellery.
Teflon by Roy Plunkett
Roy Plunkett, a chemist, was experimenting in 1938 to invent a new type of chlorofluorocarbon or CFC when he found his refrigerated canister, which was supposed to be full of gas, to have only white flakes remaining. He studied the chemical bits and its properties and found it to be a lubricant possessing very high melting point which was initially used for military wear and now is the ingredient of Teflon cookware.
Super Glue by Harry Coover
Eastman Kodak Laboratories’ Dr Harry Coover was experimenting to find a suitable substance for precision gun sight but he created cyanocrylate which glued on to everything it came in contact with. When helping design new airplane canopies, six years later, Dr Harry again accidently created cyanacrylate that stuck everywhere and thus was used as a sticking agent as it formed a strong bond that did not need heat. Thus after discovering super glue in 1942, he filed a patent for it years later and in 1958 it was commercially sold.
Play Doh by Kutol Products
Play Doh was initially marketed as a cleaning agent to remove filthy wallpaper but the company Kutol Products was declaring bankruptcy. Later they found the product was popular among school children to make ornaments for Christmas and for other crafts. Thus the company added colour and fragrance to the wallpaper cleaner and marketed it as Play Doh.
Slinky by Richard James
Richard James, a Navy engineer, in 1943 was working on using springs to keep sensitive instruments safe on board so that they did not get destroyed from the rocking movements of the ship. One of his prototypes accidentally fell on the floor and it sprang downward in a nimble and slinky fashion. That is how the toy was invented.
Saccharin by Ira Remsen and Constantin Fahlberg
Chemists Ira Remsen and Constantin Fahlberg in 1879 took a lunch break from their work in the laboratory at Johns Hopkins University but Fahlberg forgot to wash his hands. The chemicals on his hand led to his lunch tasting sweet and that is how they found artificial sweetner though only Fahlberg took in the credit as well as the patent.
Microwave by Percy L Spencer
An electronics genius, Percy Spencer, an engineer had served in the Navy during WWI and was presently experimenting with magnetron which emitted microwaves and was used in radar array guts. Suddenly he felt the chocolate is his pocket melt due to the radiation of microwaves and that is how he found microwaves which bought a revolution in the kitchen.