- Penicillin: When Alexander Fleming was looking for his wonder drug to cure diseases, he probably never thought it would look like mold. Yes, had Dr. Fleming been a little more tidy and a little less innovative, he might have just cleaned the mold from a contaminated Petri dish he found. Instead, he noticed it was dissolving all the bacteria around it and investigated further. Voila! Wonder drug.
- Pacemakers: Electrical engineer John Hopps was conducting research on hyperthermia when he discovered that if a heart stopped beating due to cooling, it could be started again by artificial stimulation. This led to the invention of the pacemaker, and countless lives have been saved ever since.
- Microwaves: Percy Spencer of the Raytheon Company was conducting radar research with vaccuum tubes when he accidentally melted a candy bar in his pocket. He put some popcorn in his experiment, and thus was born the microwave popcorn industry.
- Corn Flakes: What happened the last time you left a pot on the stove too long? When John Kellogg and his brother Will left a pot of boiled grain on the stove for several days, the resulting mess became the launching point for their famous breakfast cereal.
- The Slinky: Naval engineer Richard Jones wasn’t trying to invent what is arguably the best toy ever (your opinion may vary – see Silly Putty). He was working on tension springs designed to monitor power on naval battleships when one of them fell to the floor. Killer Question from that moment: Is this fun or what?