Accidental Scientific Discoveries


Nov 25, 2005
This is inspired by the news that French clay is going to save the World:

MRSA is the scourge of the country's hospitals, but now the discovery in France of a volcanic clay with miraculous healing properties raises the prospect of a cure for it, and to other dangerous superbugs.

The word is serendipity, a discovery made by accident (and with sagacity), and I've started a list:

  • X-rays discovered by Roentgen.
  • Gunpowder was discovered by Chinese doctors who were attempting to make an elixir of immortality (for Qin?).
  • Pennicilin. Fleming's dish of bugs was accidentally contaminated by a mould that killed them.

Can you guys add a few more? There's got to be plenty in medicine (and folk medicine).
Quite a lot of things are coincidental.

Such as: superglue. If I recall correctly, the man who discovered it was originally trying to discover new plastics. It messed up all his valuable equipment and he had to sheepishly bring it up with his superiors. They, however, became interested, and that's how superglue was made.
Silly putty
Potato chips
Gamma Ray Bursts
Microwave oven
Ink jet printers
More discoveries

This is why it's important to document every step of research, even things that are obviously wrong.
I remember in a college course, they mentioned that Pfizer had been testing a new drug. They discovered it didn't do much to treat the symptoms of high blood pressure but that the men taking it were nonetheless quite reluctant to give it up . . .
Super Soakers.
Some guy left hot water trying to make explosives. But the water shot out and the idea was bron.

It all began when a marine engineer observed a torsion spring fall off a table.
Re : OP. I eat small amounts of clay from time to time and mix some in with my cats food occasionally.
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