There have been certain inventions which have really changed the world for the better. Inventions like the microwave, penicillin, etc. have had a huge impact in changing the landscape of technology. But what do you know about the inventors behind these products and how did they invent them? There have been many famous inventions that were accidents and their inventors invented by accident when trying to get something entirely different.
The microwave is a very famous invention that was totally not intended. Percy L Spencer was a working as an engineer for Raytheon in the field of electronics. In 1945 when he was working on microwave emitting magnetron, he realized that a bar of chocolate in his pocket had melted. He realized that the magnetron has caused this and then went on to find the culinary use for this accidental discovery.
Dr. Harry Coover of Eastman Kodak laboratories was working on a new precision gun sight in 1942 when he accidentally came across ‘cyanoacrylate’, a substance that stuck to everything it touched. Six years later, working on airplane canopies he again came across the same sticky substance and then realized the real use for this substance. He got a patent for the substance and by 1958 he began selling it like superglue.
Swiss engineer George de Mestral was on a hunting trip with his pooch when he realized that the tendency of burrs to stick to his dog and also his socks. Under closer examination under a microscope, he found the burrs had tiny ‘hooks; that made it stick to fabrics and fur. After experimenting with a few fabrics he came up with Velcro, something which is very common in most straps on bags, shoes, etc. although he came up with the idea of Velcro, it was after 20 years that it was made famous by NASA.
In 1895, German physicist Wilhelm Roentgen was performing a routine experiment involving cathode rays when he noticed that the rays were lighting up one side of the room even though there was a solid object between the rays and wall. He found out that the rays could pass through solid objects and this could be used to take images of the human body. The first X-ray was taken as an image of his wife’s hand.
One very convenient invention that was made accidentally was Teflon. Chemist Roy Plunkett was hoping to create a new variety of chlorofluorocarbons. When he checked on his refrigerated container which was supposed to be filled with a gas, he found that it was empty apart from a few white flakes, Plunkett experimented their properties and found that they had a high melting point and a fantastic lubricant. They were first used for military gear before being used in cookware.
These stories show us that invention is not always intended. Sometimes the best things in life are created by accident and we should always be on the out for things we think are useless but they could be used to create something entirely different.
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Edited by Akshay Girijan
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