Accidental Genius – 11 Historical Mishaps That Invented Things We Love

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Accidental Genius – 11 Historical Mishaps That Invented Things We Love

Accidental Genius – 11 Historical Mishaps That Invented Things We Love

For better or worse these chance inventions made millionaires and changed the world – from medicine to movies, from food to fun: chewing gum, fireworks, smores, celluloid, Viagra, and even champagne all came by way of some very happy accidents.

#1 Seeking: Holy Wine Discovered: Champagne

The drink described as ‘tasting the stars’ was accidentally created by a Monk. In 1697, Dom Perignon was horrified when his unfermented wine bottles exploded and called it ‘the devil’s wine’. But when he tasted it, he soon changed his mind.


#2 Seeking: Rubber Toys Discovered: Chewing Gum

In 1869, failed inventor Thomas Adams was trying to make rubber toys with sap from a Sapodilla tree. In desperation, he chewed it and named the tasty result “Chewing Gum”. ‘Bubble Gum’ also came to us by accident in 1928, when a worker at Fleer Chewing Gum altered the recipe and invented the super stretchy wonder.


#3 Seeking: Wallpaper Discovered: Bubble Wrap

In the plastic fantastic 1950’s, two men attempting to make wallpaper realized their creation would make their fortune rebranded as a packing material.

bubble wrap

#4 Seeking: Radio Experiments Discovered: Proved The Big Bang Theory

In 1964, two astronomers discovered a background noise they could not explain – looking into it they realized that Princeton was desperately seeking this noise to prove the background radiation theory. Their accidental discovery won them the Nobel Prize.

big bang

#5 Seeking: Dinner Discovered: Fireworks

Between 600-900AD in China, some cooks combined the ingredients of sulfur, saltpeter (potassium nitrate), honey, and arsenic disulfide.  The resulting explosion led to it being named, huo yao, or the “fire chemical” or “fire drug”.  When the “fire drug” was put inside bamboo – the firecracker was born.


#6 Seeking: Headache Cure Discovered: Coca Cola

In 1886, pharmacist John Pemberton accidentally mixed coca leaves and cola nuts with carbonated water (and other secret ingredients of course) but he died before he saw his drink win world fame.


#7 Seeking: Telegraph Clicks Discovered: Phonograph

In 1877, Thomas Edison was tinkering with a tinfoil and paper cylinder to record telegraph signals. By attaching a needle in it, he somehow recorded his voice—the first human voice ever recorded, leading to the phonograph.


#8 Seeking: To Stop Carnal Urges Discovered: Smores

Evangelist Sylvester Graham invented the Graham Cracker to cure carnal urges. He thought the bland taste cured lust as it gave you consumption, spine disease and insanity.


#9 Seeking: Effects Of Cathode Tubes Discovered: X-Ray

In 1895, Wilhem Roentgen left a tube on his desk while taking photographs. When developed he saw a key which had actually been inside a book. He realized the invisible rays could penetrate matter and photographed his hand making the first X-Ray.


#10 Seeking: Cure For Heart Spasms Discovered: Viagra

Looking to treat Angina Pectoris (spasms in the heart arteries) Pfizer developed UK92480 to constrict the arteries. Its noticeable side effect was quickly realized and it was marketed as Viagra, changing the lives of millions.


#11 Seeking: Liquid Plaster Discovered: Celluloid & Artificial Silk

John Hyatt cut his finger and hunted for his liquid court plaster (Collodion) The bottle was empty. The spill had become a stiff material. He molded it into a clear and tough substance which he named “celluloid” which went on to be used to drive the motion-picture industries. Another spill of Collodion by a man named de Chardonnet led him to spin it into fine threads and create Rayon, the world’s first artificial silk.


Related topics Accident, Invention, science
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