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Top 10 Serendipitous Discoveries

Updated on June 26, 2015

Invention of coca-cola – A cool accident

John Pemberton, an American pharmacist wanted to cure his head ache. He mixed coca leaves and cola nuts that are normally used for treating head pains. By mistake, his lab accident mixed carbonated water along with the mixture. That came out as the first coke. Pemberton passed away in two years but now Coca-Cola sits as king in the empire of cool drinks.

Invention of chocolate cookies – A crunchy accident

Ruth Wakefield and her husband were owning a Toll House Inn. One day they fell short of Baker’s chocolate and so she chopped a chocolate bar in hopes that it would melt. However the pieces did not melt and stayed in the cookie resulting in today's America’s favorite Chocolate chip cookies.

Invention of Microwave oven – Favorable Culinary accident

Percy Spencer was a leading American scientist during the second world war. He was visiting a lab at Raytheon company and was standing in front of a tube emitting micro waves. Accidentally the candy bar which he had in his pocket melted which made Spencer to think about the use of radiation in kitchen. He then used corn flakes and got a tasty popcorn and thus emerged the concept of micro wave oven, now an integral part of every American cuisine.

Invention of Radioactivity – A powerful accident

Becquerel had an uranium enriched crystal in his lab and a photographic plate beside it. The plate started fogging but he imagined it was because of sunlight that the plate has fogged. However on a darker day when he removed the plate from his drawer, the photographic plate was found fogged, and the only possible reason would be the rays getting emitted from the uranium enriched crystal, thus giving rise to the concept of radioactivity.

Invention of Potato chips - A tasty accident

The primary reason for obesity in America is potato chips. The Americans tend to spend 7 billion dollars every year for those tasty chips. In 1853, George Speck Crum, had repeated complaints from a wealthy patron refusing to take the potato which was in French style. Annoyed, Speck sliced the potato into as many thinner pieces as he could and fried them in oil and served. Surprisingly, the patron ordered for another plate and the dish started to become famous emerging as potato chips of today.

Invention of Smart Dust – A smart accident

Jamie Link was working with silicon chips when one of them accidentally fell down and shattered into pieces. To his amazement, he found that the chips still transmitted signals. This lead to the discovery of smart dust, now being used in medical field to cure tumors.

Invention of Penicillin – An accident that made world strong

Alexander Fleming left a container of Staphylococcus bacteria accidentally uncovered when he went on for a vacation. Upon returning, he was astonished to find that there was mold on the culture which killed a lot of bacteria. The world’s first antibiotic was seen to work.

Invention of Velcro – A sticky accident

George De Mastral noticed cockleburs sticking on his dog’s fur perfectly and started to examine it with a microscope. He created surfaces with hooks and started testing with many materials. Finally he settled with nylon and called it as “velcro”.

Invention of matchstick – A flickering accident

John Walker, a British pharmacist found a lump of dried chemicals at the end of a stick and wanted to rip it off. When he tried to scrap it, a flame aroused, making him to ponder on the abnormal phenomenon. He used cardboard pieces initially and then however replaced it with wooden sticks and sold the match sticks with a sandpaper that would trigger fire.

Invention of pacemaker – A therapeutic accident

Wilson Greatbach, an American inventor was trying to record the heart beat sounds of animals at Cornell University. However he accidentally inserted a wrong transistor into the oscillator but was surprised to find that the device worked perfectly well, able to record heart beats. He then tuned the device and used it for humans.

Invention of dynamite – A regretting accident.

There was an explosion in Sweden which proved fatal for the younger brother of Nobel. They were working on stabilizing the explosive liquid, Nitroglycerine. One of the cans had accidentally exploded during transportation. He then found that keiselguhr was used to absorb the liquid and he mixed it with nitroglycerine creating dynamite. However his discovery was used in warfare. Dejected by his unhealthy contribution to the world, he included Nobel Peace Prize in his final will and wanted it to be awarded to people who promote peace between the nations.

Invention of popiscles – A frozen accident

In San Francisco, Frank Epperson was stirring a fruit-flavor soda and left it overnight along with the stirring stick. It was cold and the drink froze around the stick. Next day morning, Frank stood bewildered at the product. He took it in his hands and licked it. He sold the frozen lollipops for many years and had a great welcome when he served them at Neptune beach, which was an amazement park in California.

Invention of Viagra – A medical miracle

To cure anigma, Simon Campbell and David Roberts, the two pharmaceutical company researchers worked on a new drug. The drug was to have the potential of treating high blood pressure. However, when tested, the patients reported side affects. The drug was named Viagra and was called as a cure for erectile dysfunction disorder. It was later approved by US food and Drug administration.

Which accidental invention interests you the most?

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    • Seshagopalan profile imageAUTHOR

      Seshagopalan Murali 

      5 years ago from Chennai, Tamil Nadu

      Thanks a lot flourish anyway.. Even the country you are from is an infamous accidental discovery.. Columbus discovered America by accident :) :)

    • FlourishAnyway profile image


      5 years ago from USA

      What an interesting hub. I had heard of the origin of a few of these, but you nicely threaded them together and introduced new information with great photos. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this. Voted up and more, plus sharing.

    • Seshagopalan profile imageAUTHOR

      Seshagopalan Murali 

      5 years ago from Chennai, Tamil Nadu

      @point2make Thank you point2make. Yes I agree.

      It was a learning for me as well.

    • Seshagopalan profile imageAUTHOR

      Seshagopalan Murali 

      5 years ago from Chennai, Tamil Nadu

      Thank you i scribble for your kind feedback. And by the way Good Luck :)

    • i scribble profile image

      i scribble 

      5 years ago

      I didn't know about many of these, like the matchsticks. Wish I could stumble upon an awesome invention!

    • royal52 profile image

      Asad Shoaib 

      5 years ago from Pakistan

      welcome bro :)

    • point2make profile image


      5 years ago

      Wow....I had no idea..what a great hub. Thanks for all the great info. Like they say learn something new everyday. This hub certainly helps you do that.

    • Seshagopalan profile imageAUTHOR

      Seshagopalan Murali 

      5 years ago from Chennai, Tamil Nadu

      Thank you royal52 :)

    • royal52 profile image

      Asad Shoaib 

      5 years ago from Pakistan

      nyc article !!!...... voted up :)


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