Accidental inventions


What is needed for an invention? Many will answer that it will take months and years of research and experimentation. Let's talk about the most famous of them.

Penicillin. The discovery of penicillin took place in 1928. The author of the accidental invention was Alexander Fleming, who at that time was engaged in influenza research. According to legend, the scientist was not careful enough and did not bother with frequent washing of laboratory glassware immediately after research. So, flu cultures could be stored in him for 2-3 weeks in 30-40 cups at a time. And then one day, in one of the Petri dishes, the scientist found mold, which, to his amazement, was able to destroy the seeded culture of staphylococcus bacteria. This aroused Fleming's interest, it turned out that the mold, which was infected with the culture, belongs to a very rare species. She most likely got to the laboratory from the room one floor below, it was there that mold samples taken from patients with bronchial asthma were grown. Fleming left the cup that was to become famous on the table and went to rest. Then a cold snap set in London, which created favorable conditions for the growth of mold. The subsequent warming favored the growth of bacteria. It turned out later. What exactly such a combination of circumstances was the birth of such an important discovery. Moreover, its significance has gone far beyond the scope of only the 20th century. After all, penicillin has helped and is still helping to save the lives of millions of people. People paid tribute to the memory of the scientist, after Fleming's death he was buried in St. Paul's Cathedral in London, placing him on a par with the most famous Englishmen. In Greece, on the day of Fleming's death, national mourning was even declared.

X-rays or X-Rays. The discovery was made in 1895 by the physicist Wilhelm Konrad Roentgen. The scientist conducted experiments in a darkened room, trying to understand whether the cathode rays, discovered only recently, could pass through a vacuum tube or not. Changing the shape of the cathode, Roentgen accidentally saw that a diffuse greenish cloud had appeared on the chemically cleaned screen at a distance of several pounds. It seemed that the faint flash from the induction coil could be reflected in the mirror. The scientist was so interested in this effect that he devoted seven whole weeks to it, practically without leaving the laboratory. As a result, it turned out that the glow arises from direct rays emanating from the cathode ray tube. The very same radiation gives a shadow, and it cannot be deflected by a magnet. After applying the effect on humans, it became clear that bones cast a denser shadow than soft tissues. It is still used today in fluoroscopy. In the same year, the first X-ray image appeared. It was a snapshot of the scientist's wife's hand, on whose finger a gold ring was clearly visible. So the first test subject was the woman whom the men could see through. Then they did not know anything about the danger of radiation - there even existed a photo studio where they took single and family photographs.

Vulcanized rubber. In 1496, Columbus brought a wonderful thing from the West Indies - rubber balls. Then it seemed magical, but not very useful fun. In addition, rubber had its drawbacks - it smelled and rotted quickly, and when it was warm it became too sticky, and hardened strongly in the cold. It is not surprising that people could not find a use for rubber for a long time. Only 300 years later, in 1839, this problem was solved by Charles Goodyear. In his chemical laboratory, the scientist tried to mix rubber with magnesia, nitric acid, lime, but to no avail. An attempt to mix rubber with sulfur ended in failure. But then, quite by accident, this mixture was dropped on a hot oven. This is how the elastic rubber that surrounds us everywhere today has turned out. These are car tires, balls and galoshes.

Cellophane. In 1908, the Swiss chemist Jacques Brandenberger, who works for the textile industry, was looking for ways to create a coating for kitchen tablecloths that would be as stain-resistant as possible. The developed covering in the form of rigid viscose was too tough for the intended purposes, but Jacques believed in this material and suggested using it for packaging products. However, the first machine for the production of cellophane appeared only 10 years later - that is how long it took the Swiss scientist to realize his idea.

Safety glass. Today such a combination of words is not surprising, but in 1903 everything was completely different. Then the French scientist Edouard Benedictus dropped an empty glass flask on his leg. The dishes did not break and this surprised him very much. Of course, the walls were covered with a network of cracks, but the shape remained intact. The scientist tried to find out what caused this phenomenon. It turned out that before that there was a collodion solution in the flask, which is a solution of cellulose nitrates in a mixture of ethanol with ethyl ether. Although the liquid evaporated, a thin layer of it remained on the walls of the vessel. At this time, the automotive industry developed in France. Then the windshield was made of ordinary glass, which entailed many injuries to drivers. Benedictus understood how his invention could be used in this area and thereby save many lives. However, the cost of implementation was so high that it was simply postponed for decades. Only decades after World War I, during which triplex was used as glass for gas masks, safety glass was also used in the automotive industry. The pioneer was Volvo in 1944.

Scotchgard protective material. In 1953, Patsy Sherman, an employee of the 3M Corporation, developed a rubber material that would successfully withstand interaction with aviation fuel. But suddenly one sloppy lab technician spilled one of the experimental compounds right on her new tennis shoes. It is quite obvious that Patsy was upset as she could not clean her shoes with alcohol or soap. However, this failure only pushed the woman to new research. And now, just a year after the accident, the Scotchgard drug was born, which protects various surfaces from pollution - from fabrics to cars.

Sticky notes - memo stickers. This random invention is also known as post-it notes. In 1970, Spencer Silver, who worked for the same 3M corporation, tried to develop a super-strong adhesive. However, its results were depressing - the resulting mixture was constantly smeared over the surface of the paper, but if they tried to stick it to something, then after a while the leaf fell off, leaving no traces on the surface. Four years later, another employee of the same company, Arthur Fry, who sang in the church choir, figured out how to improve the search for psalms in a book. To do this, he pasted bookmarks there, smeared with the composition developed earlier. This helped the stickers stay inside the book for a long time. Since 1980, the history of the release of post-it notes, one of the most popular office products, began.

Super glue. This substance is also called Krazy Glue, but in fact its correct name is "cyanoacrylate (cyanoacrylate)". And his invention was also an accident. The author of the discovery was Dr. Harry Coover, who, during World War II in 1942, was looking in his laboratory for a way to make the plastic for gun sights transparent. As a result of the experiments, cyanoacrylate was obtained, which did not solve the required problem in any way. This substance quickly hardened and glued to everything in a row, spoiling valuable laboratory equipment. Only many years later, in 1958, the scientist realized that his invention could be used for the benefit of humanity. The most useful was the ability of the composition to instantly seal ... human wounds! This saved the lives of many soldiers in Vietnam. With the wounds sealed with miracle glue, the wounded could already be transported to the hospital. In 1959, an extraordinary demonstration of glue took place in America. There, the host of the program was lifted in the air on two steel plates glued together with a drop of composition. Later, during the demonstrations, both televisions and cars were raised into the air.

Velcro or velcro. It all began in 1941, when the Swiss inventor George de Mestral was walking his dog as usual. Upon returning home, it turned out that both the owner's coat and the entire coat of the dog were covered with burdock. The curious Swiss decided to examine under a microscope how the plant manages to cling so firmly. It turned out that it was all the fault - tiny hooks with which the burdock was attached to the wool almost tightly. Guided by a peeped principle, George created two ribbons with the same small hooks that would cling to each other. This is how the alternative clasp appeared! However, the mass production of a useful product began only 14 years later. Astronauts were one of the first to use such Velcro straps, who fasten their spacesuits this way.

Popsicle popsicle. The author of this invention was only eleven years old, and the name of the young man was Frank Epperson. What he discovered will be called by many as one of the most significant inventions of the 20th century. Luck smiled at the boy when he dissolved soda powder in water - such a drink was popular with children at that time. For some reason, Frank did not manage to drink the liquid right away, he left a stirring stick in the glass and left it outside for a while. The weather was frosty then and the mixture quickly froze. The boy liked the funny frozen thing on a stick, because it could be licked with the tongue, and not drunk. With a laugh, Frank began to show his discovery to everyone. When the boy grew up, he remembered the invention of his childhood. And now, after 18 years, sales of "Epsicles" fruit ice cream started, which had as many as 7 flavor options. Today, this type of delicacy is so popular that more than three million popsicle popsicles are sold annually in America alone.

Garbage bag. Mankind received a waste bag only in 1950. Once the municipality of his city turned to Harry Vasilyuk, an engineer and inventor, with a request to solve the problem of waste spilling when loading garbage trucks. For a long time Vasilyuk has been designing a device that works on the principle of a vacuum cleaner. But then suddenly another idea dawned on him. According to legend, one of his acquaintances accidentally exclaimed: "I need a garbage bag!" It was then that Vasilyuk realized that only disposable bags should be used for operations with garbage, which he proposed to make of polyethylene. First, such bags were used in hospitals in Winnipeg, Canada. The first garbage bags for individuals appeared only in the 1960s. I must say that Vasilik's invention turned out to be very useful, because now one of the global tasks of mankind is just waste disposal. And the present invention, although it does not contribute to the direct solution of the problem, indirectly still helps.

Supermarket trolley. Sylvan Goldman was the owner of a large grocery store in Oklahoma City. And so he noticed that customers do not always take some goods, because they are simply difficult to carry! Then Goldman invented the first shopping trolley in 1936. The businessman himself came to the idea of ​​his invention by accident - he saw how one of the customers put a heavy bag on a toy car, which his son was rolling on a string. The merchant first attached wheels to an ordinary basket, and then, calling on the help of mechanics, he also created a prototype of a modern cart. Since 1947, the mass production of this device began. It was this invention that allowed the emergence of such a phenomenon as supermarkets.

Pacemaker. Among the random inventions of mankind are devices. In this row stands out the pacemaker, which helps to save the lives of millions of people suffering from heart disease. In 1941, engineer John Hopkins was doing hypothermia research for the Navy. He was tasked with finding a way to maximize heating of a person who had been in frost or ice water for a long time. To address this issue, John tried to use high-frequency radio waves to heat the body. However, he found that if the heart stopped due to hypothermia, it could be restarted by stimulation with electrical impulses. This discovery led to the first pacemaker in 1950. At that time, it was bulky and heavy, and its use sometimes even led to the formation of burns in patients. The second accidental discovery in this area belongs to the medic Wilson Greatbatch. He tried to create a device for recording heart rhythms. Once he accidentally inserted the wrong resistor into his device and saw oscillations in the electrical network similar to the rhythm of the human heart. Already two years later, with the help of Greatbatch, the first implantable pacemaker appeared, delivering artificial impulses that stimulate heart activity.

Potato chips. In 1853, in the town of Saratoga, New York, a regular but particularly capricious customer literally exhausted the staff of one cafe. This man was the railroad tycoon Cornelius Vanderbilt, and he constantly refused the offered fries, considering it thick and wet. In the end, the chef George Krum got tired of slicing the tubers thinner and thinner, and he decided to take revenge or just play a trick on the annoying visitor. Several waffle-thin slices of potatoes were fried in oil and served to Cornelius. The grouch’s first reaction was predictable — now the slices seemed too thin to be pricked with a fork. However, after trying a few of them, the visitor was finally satisfied. As a result, other visitors also wished to taste the new dish. Soon a new dish called "Saratoga Chips" appeared on the menu, and the chips themselves began their triumphant march around the world.

LSD. The accidental discovery of d-lysergic acid diethylamide led to a whole cultural revolution. Few people today can dispute this fact, because the hallucinogen, discovered by the Swiss scientist Albert Hoffman in 1938, largely contributed to the formation of the hippie movement in the 60s. Interest in this substance was quite great, and it also had a huge impact on the research and treatment of neurological diseases. In fact, Dr. Hoffman discovered LSD as a hallucinogen while participating in pharmaceutical research in Basel, Switzerland. Doctors were trying to create a drug that would relieve pain during childbirth. When synthesizing what was later called LSD, Hoffman initially did not find any interesting properties in the substance and hid it in storage. The real properties of LSD were revealed only in April 1943. Hoffman worked with the substance without gloves, and some of it entered the body through the skin. When Albert rode home on a bicycle, he was surprised to see "a never-ending stream of fantastic paintings, unusual shapes with a rich and kaleidoscopic play of color." In 1966, LSD was outlawed in the United States, and soon the ban spread to other countries, which greatly complicated the study of the hallucinogen.One of the earliest researchers was Dr. Richard Alpert, who claimed that by 1961 he had tested LSD at 200 sites, 85% of which said they had the most rewarding experiences of their lives.

Microwave. And in this case, a completely different device was invented. So, in 1945, the American engineer Percy Spencer created magnetrons. These devices were supposed to generate microwave radio signals for the first radars. After all, they played an important role in the Second World War. But the fact that microwaves can help cook food was discovered quite by accident. One day, standing near a working magnetron, Spencer saw that a bar of chocolate had melted in his pocket. The inventor's mind quickly realized that the microwaves were to blame. Spencer decided to experiment with popcorn and eggs. The latter, as expected for us modern, exploded. The benefits of microwaves turned out to be obvious, over time, the first microwave oven was also made. At that time, it weighed about 340 kilograms and was the size of a large modern refrigerator.


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