10 Accidental Inventions and Discoveries

Many of the inventions of all times have been "accidental" inventions. They came about because the person was doing something else and it just happened or they were working on another invention and invented another. Some of these on this list are important medical inventions that have helped save lives or made our lives easier, some belongs to food and some to fashion. Here is the list of top ten accidental inventions and discoveries.


1- Penicillin

This was invented because Alexander Fleming did not clean his workstation before he went on vacation. When he came back he found a strange fungus on some of his cultures and the bacteria did not seem to thrive near those particular cultures. It was the first and one of the most widely used antibiotics today. This was in 1928.



2- Pacemaker

This was invented because Professor Wilson Greatbatch put his hand into a container and pulled out the incorrect object. He was trying to make a type of circuit to record the sounds of a fast heart and when he put his hand into the container for a resistor to complete the circuit he pulled out the wrong one. He was suppose to get a 10,000-ohm but got a 1-megaohm resistor. This circuit pulsed, stopped for a second, then repeated, and was the sound of a heartbeat that was perfect.


3- Mauve

Chemist William Perkin wanted to cure malaria but instead changed the face of fashion. He was trying to make artificial quinine to cure malaria but instead made the first every synthetic dye. His dyes were also used to pioneer chemotherapy and immunology.


4- Radioactivity

William Becquerel was trying to see if fluorescent minerals would produce X-rays after being in the sun. The weather was overcast so he put them away to wait for a sunny day. He looked at the uranium rock he had left in the drawer and it had imprinted itself on a photographic plate with no sunlight.


5- Plastic

Leo Hendrik Baekeland was trying to produce a shellac alternative but instead his experiment made a moldable material. It could take high temps without distorting. He first thought it might be used for phonograph records but found it had many other uses.


6- Vulcanized Rubber

One day Charles Goodyear accidentally spilled a mix of sulfur, rubber, and lead onto a hot stove. When he picked up the “accident” he found it was hard but still quite usable. It is used for tires, to hockey pucks, to shoes.


7- Teflon

Roy Plunkett was working to make a new kind of safer chlorofluorocarbons (CFC) because the old ones was damaging to the ozone system and were being used in refrigeration. He was trying to get a compound called TFE to react with hydrochloric acid. He put a bunch of TFE gas pressurized into cans and when he opened them, the gas was gone. Out of the can came some fine white flakes which he gave to scientists at DuPont.


8- Coke

Pharmacist John Pemberton was trying to make a cure for headaches so he mixed together some ingredients, which is still a secret today, and after eight years of being sold in a drug store, it was sold in bottles.



9- Smart Dust

Jamie Link was on a silicon chips for her doctoral work and one burst but she found the tiny pieces were still able to function as sensors and she called it smart dust.


10- Saccharin

This sweetener was discovered because the chemist Constantin Fahlberg did not wash his hands after a day at work. He was trying to come up with uses for coal tar. He was eating without washing his hands and the rolls he was eating tasted sweeter but tasted normal to his wife. This is used as substitute to sugar and used in tea, cakes etc


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