Scientific Inventions Gone Good [or, I'm really glad that didn't blow-up!]

How Mistakes Make for Perfect Scientific Discoveries

When I ponder the concepts surrounding discovery and experimentation, probability comes to mind. Just how probable is it that what we set out to uncover or discover is actually what we find? When we consider historical findings such as medications, toys, popular food, or even electronic discoveries...is what we found really what we were looking for?

Scientific Mistakes can go very wrong, but be so right!
Scientific Mistakes can go very wrong, but be so right!

So often the past will tell us of those few who set out to find and develop that one thing that would change us forever, when in actuality, the things that have changed us forever have inexplicably been those things that we had no desire to invent in the first place. Possibly our goals were far loftier in origin, but found greater success in application of an unintended outcome. Never underestimate the power of mishap, it may just turn out that your mistakes lead us into the next century brighter, safer and with a bit more fun!

Below are six discoveries that were not what we set out to find at all...but rather outstanding observations and cross references to what results when we let discoveries happen instead of concluding intended experiments.

Perfect Mistakes, Scientific Mishaps

Source
Crime labs use super glue fuming techniques to discover hidden fingerprints.
Crime labs use super glue fuming techniques to discover hidden fingerprints. | Source

Super Glue is Discovered to be Irreplaceable in Crime Labs!

Be careful where you put your fingertips! Crime labs have for many years relied on the dirty, bloody and sweaty placement of our fingertips. They had to count on these materials to bring the evidence of fingerprints to life in courtrooms and crime labs. In 1985, during an attempt in a Japanese crime lab to repair a leaky fish tank with Superglue, the discovery of latent fingerprints (latent fingerprints, unlike dirty finger prints, usually can not be seen) found that when the glue dried it formed perfect white castings of these latent prints making them quite visible. The process is now called cyanoacrylate fuming (after the glue). It is most effective when used on aluminum foil, cellophane, Styrofoam and other plastic materials.

Velcro has similar properties as do the cockle-bur!
Velcro has similar properties as do the cockle-bur! | Source

The Velcro Cockle-bur Connection

No Glue required here! Velcro, two strips of nylon fabric, on one side loads of small hooks, on the other side just as many small loops. The invention was derived in 1948 when George de Mestral a Swiss engineer, found cockle-burs (a prickly little sticker) on his socks and pant legs after a walk. He took a closer look at he burrs and found that they are a maze of little hooks that would cling to fabric. It wasn't until 1956 and after many experiments to perfect the invention, that Velcro was delivered to consumers. Today it is used as a fastener for everything from shoes to space suits!

The first microwave weighed over 700 pounds!
The first microwave weighed over 700 pounds!

The First Microwave Oven Was Discovered When...

A melted candy bar in your pocket and suddenly American kitchens are occupied by microwave ovens? Percy Spencer was conducting experiments around a new form of vacuum tube. A candy bar began melting in his pocket which suggested that possibly popcorn might pop. And it did. In 1947 the first microwave oven known as the "radar range" was built by Raytheon. It was so large (750 lbs & 5-1/2 feet tall) and so expensive ($5K) that consumers were not in any hurry to purchase the behemoth. Eventually a smaller 100-volt model was designed and consumers fell in love with the counter-top version, eagerly paying the $495 price.

Slinky was originally a shipping idea!
Slinky was originally a shipping idea! | Source

Who Invented the Slinky?

What do cargo and a classic popular toy have in common? Richard James of course. A naval engineer who in 1943 was experimenting to find a spring that would treat sensitive equipment gently during transportation on ships. One of the jello-like springs fell from a shelf, but when landing, continued to shimmy and shake. This was when James got the idea for the Slinky. In 1945 Slinky was made available for sale, selling 400 within the first 90 minutes. World wide sales to date are somewhere around 250 million, and growing!

The amazing 3M Post-it notes!
The amazing 3M Post-it notes! | Source

How Post-it Notes Were Invented

A church choir and low-tack adhesive began an office supply revolution! In 1973 Arther Fry used this slightly sticky material on book markers to mark the pages of his hymnal while he sang in the church choir. A buddy from 3M, Spencer Silver, had accidentally discovered the low-tack glue in 1968, but had no idea what it could be used for until Fry used it in choir. Over 100 countries now purchase Post-it notes even as 3M was unsure it could be a profitable item. Post-it notes were marketed to the world in 1980 and continue to cover walls, computers, and refrigerators to this day...with no signs of slowing sales in site.

Chinese Fireworks may have been the first beautiful explosions!
Chinese Fireworks may have been the first beautiful explosions! | Source

How Fireworks Were Invented

An explosive recipe from China lights up our patriotic skies annually. Approximately 2,000 years ago when mixing common kitchen ingredients for that time period (saltpeter, charcoal and sulfur) a Chinese cook found the concoction burned. Later the recipe was put into a bamboo tube and then blown-up. Many fireworks, wonderfully bright and colorful renditions of the recipe, have graced our Independence day celebrations and many other celebrated events over the centuries. Possibly the fire-extinguisher was the next invention?....

Source

What do You Thinnk?

Have you made a discovery by making a mistake?

  • No!
  • Yes!
  • Not yet!
  • I hope I never do!
See results without voting

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Comments for "Scientific Inventions Gone Good [or, I'm really glad that didn't blow-up!]" 12 comments

K9keystrokes profile image

K9keystrokes 6 years ago from Northern, California Author

Lyjo~ You are so right. Without a few of these scientific mistakes, we would still be in the dark ages. Thank you for stopping by.

K9


lyjo profile image

lyjo 6 years ago

Awesome...much can be learned by this....mistakes are how we learn....isn't that awesome? I think it is...otherwise I wouldn't learn a thing! Take great care!


K9keystrokes profile image

K9keystrokes 6 years ago from Northern, California Author

Gus~ Hey, great trivia my friend! Love the insider scoop on movable type. Really enjoy your comments and your hubs! Here are a few more neat tid-bits;

-The last dodo bird died in 1681

-In Michigan, it is illegal to chain an alligator to a fire hydrant

-The first VCR was made in 1956 and was the size of a piano

-Cat’s urine glows under a black light (creepy)

-A dime has 118 ridges around the edge

Until next time my happy hubbers ~always choose love~


GusTheRedneck profile image

GusTheRedneck 6 years ago from USA

K9K - Ahhhh - you have truly caught my attention. Great article and fun to read. Here is another truly interesting "invention" tale that few people know of: Kodachrome film was invented in their basement by two musicians! And yet another one: Johannes Gutenberg supposedly invented movable type and revolutionized the practices of printing. Nope! It was his wife, a person who knew nothing about printing. Back then, printing was done by inking a stone that had been etched so that its lettering and images would transfer ink onto paper. Each page required a separately prepared stone. Gutenberg's wife had picked up one of his ready-for-printing stones and the stone broke into pieces when she dropped it on the floor. "Ach du Lieber," hollered Johannes, "it is movable type !!!"

I'm looking forward to more articles from you like this one.

Gus :-)))


K9keystrokes profile image

K9keystrokes 6 years ago from Northern, California Author

Greenlilly~ Thanks for reading! Very glad you enjoyed the read. Watchout for perfect mistakes, they may be the next big invention!


Greenlily profile image

Greenlily 6 years ago from Philippines

Wow tons of amazing information! This is a great hub and I am really amused! Thanks!


K9keystrokes profile image

K9keystrokes 6 years ago from Northern, California Author

Candy~ I agree! Mixing history with trivia is compelling and just good fun! Thanks for the read and for your continued support here on HubPages. Always pleased to see you on board.


Candy Campbell 6 years ago

I really enjoyed this article...funny how a simple idea can become a miraculous discovery? Mixing history and trivia...way to go. Fun reading!


K9keystrokes profile image

K9keystrokes 6 years ago from Northern, California Author

RG~ Thanks for the read, and you are correct about the candy bars melting in our pockets. It must have been a pretty messy meltdown to take notice of. As for the guys messing around with the first atom bomb...one way or another they may very well have been the final generation within their bloodline! ;-)

Nellieanne~ SO glad you stopped by. It makes me very happy you found the hub interesting. Being a bit of a trivia buff, this kind of stuff is really my cup of tea! Thanks for the read and I always look forward to your writings!

Petra~America was an accidental discovery, but what a great discovery it was! As for me, I make daily mistaken discoveries when trying to shorten the distance from my house to the store...a bit geographically challenged. Penicillin was however one of our best mistaken discoveries. How many beautiful lives have been saved from such a magnificent mistake? Thank you for the read.

~always choose love~


Petra Vlah profile image

Petra Vlah 6 years ago from Los Angeles

Many good and useful things have been discovered by accident, including penicillin that saved millions of lives. America was also discovered by accident and that too made life better for millions (not exactly a scientific mistake, just a mistake on trying to shorten the distance from Europe to the Indies)


Nellieanna profile image

Nellieanna 6 years ago from TEXAS

This is fascinating information! I love history and the historyt of useful discoveries is a double-whammy! Amazing what simple observations &/or a few far-reaching ideas for application can come up with! I thoroughly enjoyed each of the backgrounds! Thank you K9!


RGNestle profile image

RGNestle 6 years ago from Seattle

I love learning new things like this! I had no idea about the Slinky, although I knew about the Post Its.

The history of the Microwave Oven was a little scary. Just like the guys playing around with the core of the first atomic bomb with a pen and no protective gear, this guy could have drastically shortened his life expectancy. But, don't candy bars always melt in your pocket?

Keep the cool Hubs coming! Thanks!

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