Saturday, May 26, 2007

The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not 'Eureka!' (I found it!) but 'That's funny ...'
Isaac Asimov

Sometimes our lives become so weighted by perceived limitations, it is good to hear (or read) of interesting discoveries that just 'happened'. It is wild to imagine that Alexander Flemming discovered Penicillin by complete accident! A discovery that revolutionized the treatment of infections and illnesses, discovered by something as simple as a petri dish accidentally exposed to the air!

X-Rays; a complete accident while Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen researched cathode ray tubes.

Velcro came from an inspired George de Mestral after observing how cockleburrs would cover his pants and dog's coat.

Microwave ovens came into existence after Percy Spencer's candy bar was melted by World War II RADAR equipment.

Quinine, the cure for Malaria was discovered quite by accident when a severely ill South American native drank from a bitter tasting pool of water near a Cinchona tree. The bark from the Cinchona tree, previously though to be poisonous, became a tremendous life-saver.

Safety glass, the kind used in automobiles was discovered by complete accident in 1903 when someone accidentally knocked over a flask filled with plastic. The plastic partially evaporated and the person cleaning up the mess discovered that it all stuck together in a way that made the glass stronger.

Dr. Roy Plunkett, working with gases to keep things cold, discovered a mystery item in a device he was using. He had no idea how it got there, who made it or what it was. He and his lab assistants ran some tests on it, only to discover that it adhered wonderfully to metal, but to most other objects it was very slippery. Any guesses??? That was the birth of Teflon (a.k.a. Tetraflouroethylene)!

So, get out your spoons and knives and soldering irons and saws and a cup of serendipity. Leave all your preconceived notions and limits aside.

Anyone up for tabletop fusion???

1 comment:

Can'tBreathe said...

Tabletop fusion? Working on it! Muahahaha!