Top 5 Accidental Scientific Discoveries

Top 5 Accidental Scientific Discoveries

Many scientists have worked and experimented on something they wanted to prove. And many reached their predicted conclusions. But some scientists while expecting one thing, found a drastically different result. The unwanted results of their experiments have great importance in the world now, resulting in accidental scientific discoveries.

They came out accidentally when scientists were looking for other results. For example, Saccharine which is an artificial sweetener, came out when a Russian chemist worked for many days but forgot to wash his hands.

Top 5 Accidental Scientific Discoveries
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Following are five things that wouldn’t have been discovered if not due to an accident.


1)   Microwave:

We’re kicking it off with our number one utility, the microwave. An engineer named Percy Spencer in 1946 was working on a project related to radar for Raytheon Corporation. At that time, he had chocolate in his pocket as he hadn’t an idea of what will happen to it. When he tested a new vacuum tube, he found that the chocolate in his pocket was melted instantly that was unexpected.

He became curious about it and tried other things such as eggs and popcorn kernels with the tube. He said that the microwave energy gave heat to the items which became soft. Soon, a microwave was introduced with a cost of USD 500. The weight of the first-ever microwave was 750 pounds and a length of 168 cm.


2)   Quinine:

Quinine is extracted from the tree bark, which is useful in malarial disease. This ingredient is now used in tonic water as well as in drugs for malaria. In 1600, quinine was used as an antimalarial drug.

Now how was it discovered? When a feverish Andean man lost in the jungle, and he had malaria. He found water close to the quinaquina tree and drank it. The taste was bitter, so he was in doubt that it could worsen his health situation, but he found himself healthy after a few days. He came back to his home and shared that he got healthy when drank that water. So, the quinine effective for malaria came out to be all accidental.


3)   X-rays:

Here is the exciting story of how we found X-rays to be useful in making bone images?

A German physicist; Wilhelm Roentgen in 1895 was experimenting on the cathode ray tube. The tube was covered but he saw that if the room was dark and the tube was on, he would see the fluorescent screen.

The rays came out to light up the screen. He stood in between the beams to block them, but nothing happened. Then he put his hand in front of the cathode tube, and when the rays passed through the bones, he saw his bone’s image. Then he placed a photographic place to capture the picture of bones which was the first-ever x-ray. Then the medical institution followed this experience to capture the image of bones of patients when required.


4)   Radioactivity:

Henri Becquerel started experimenting to find the association between the X-rays and phosphorescence. He used uranium salts to place the photographic plates. He thought that it would absorb the energy of the x-ray from Sun., the sky was cloudy; that’s why he thought it wouldn’t complete without sun rays. But what he saw it was still competed, so he got curious how? Then he recognised that uranium salts transmitted the radioactive rays that’s why he was able to capture the image.


5)   Velcro:

A Swiss engineer named George de Mestral once went for hiking. When he got back home, he found that something stucked to his clothes. When he examined it, he found a small seed wrap with small hooks. Those hooks made it able to attach to the cloths such as fabric and fur.

As he hadn’t examined such thing which attaches so firmly, he decided to introduce a material which is now famous as Velcro.

At that time, it wasn’t accessible so much but got famous when used by NASA and then on sneakers and jackets etc.

Why we should appreciate these Accidental Scientific Discoveries

The focus of science is to uncover truths through logical deduction and testing. While many experiments will go exactly as expected, others wont. It’s when experiments go wrong, or produce unexpected results, do we learn something new. These results change our fundemental understanding of the test and process itself. We use this information to better our tests and future hypotheses.

The understanding of what our test and hypothesis predicts, can often be sorely lacking. We thus rely on these accidents to show us something new. These can often lead to accidental scientific discoveries that will change the way understand and live on our planet.

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Avatar of Mahim Gupta
Mahim Gupta
I'm an experienced writer and up-and-coming journalist on WeeklyReviewer. I have a Bachelor's in Computer Science from Rutgers University. My focus is on analyzing deeper issues in the news. I've recently been getting into reporting on Politics, but my focus is Business, Science and Technology. I also focus on industry reviews and product reviews. Mahim Gupta - Head Editor | Author - WeeklyReviewer

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