Wednesday, November 25, 2009

"Watson, come here! I want to see you!": “accidents” with a twist

Clothes, appliances, electronic devices, and pretty much everything we use have been invented with a purpose in mind: to solve a problem. Sometimes, however, accidents are the inspiration for some neat inventions that end up being fundamental in our everyday lives. Some well known “accidents” are the telephone, penicillin, TNT, Teflon, Velcro, and silly putty.

Some other mishaps that turned into something useful are:

Popsicles: invented in 1905 by Frank Epperson who was 11 years old at that time. He mixed soda water powder and water. He left this mixture, with the stirring stick in it, on his porch by accident overnight. The temperature dropped and the next day he had this frozen “ice cream” as a result. Later on, he started his Popsicle business.

Tea bags: around 1904, Thomas Sullivan, a coffee and tea seller, decided to stop sending samples of his products in big heavy cans and instead began using little silk bags to send tea to customers. People realized that these bags were easier to brew and the rest is history.

Scotchgard: during the 50’s some scientists were working with a substance called fluorochemicals used in aircraft. Some drops of this substance were spilled on one of the scientists shoes and later she noticed that the rest of the shoe was getting dirty except for the area with fluorochemicals. This is the beginning of this fabric protector that remains popular today.

All of these examples and more can be found in a juvenile book titled: Mistakes That Worked by Charlotte Fotlz Jones. If you want to read more books related to this topic, you can check the following titles out:

You might also want to visit the National inventors Hall of Fame

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