Remember how Isaac Newton discovered gravity? It wasn't while experimenting in a lab or testing samples under the microscope. The genius discovered the concept while sitting under a tree, thinking about the forces of nature as an apple fell to the ground around him. It caused him to think there might be something acting on the fruit that it fell downwards and not in any other direction. And voilà, the term gravity was coined.
Just like the discovery of gravity, many other inventions were spontaneous and somewhat accidental. Today, we'll be shining the spotlight on some of these life-changing findings that changed the world for good.
#1 - Penicillin
Who says taking breaks isn't good for work? Just look at Alexander Fleming, a Scottish physician and microbiologist who discovered Penicillin after returning from a vacation.
Fleming was studying bacteria when he decided to drop everything and leave for a family vacation. Upon his return, he observed that one of his batches was contaminated with a fungus that had actually killed the bacteria. When Fleming isolated the fungus and exposed it to bacteria, he found that the mold juice was effective in killing scarlet fever, meningitis, pneumonia, and other disease-causing bacteria. After conducting several more experiments over the following years, researchers finally came up with the life-saving drug Penicillin.
#2 - Medical Anesthesia
Imagine how painful surgeries and other procedures would be if it wasn't for medical anesthesia. But do you know the story behind its discovery?
In 1844, Dentist Horace Wells was attending a demonstration of nitrous oxide when the demonstrator, an apothecary clerk suffered an injury to his leg while showing off the gas. Curiously enough, he continued the demo while seemingly showing no signs of pain. Once the demonstration had ended, Wells proceeded to ask the clerk if he felt the injury, and to his amazement, the demonstrator completely denied that he had felt any pain, claiming that his legs felt totally senseless. After experimenting with the gas on himself first and his patients thereon afterward, Wells came up with medical anesthesia, and the medical field still thanks him to this day.
#3 - Microwave Ovens
A gift to every foodie, microwave ovens were created when engineer Percy Spencer noticed a bar of melted chocolate in his pocket. While working with a radar machine at the U.S. firm Raytheon, Spencer noticed that the chocolate bar in his pocket was melting faster than usual. Smart as he was, he understood that the phenomenon had something to do with the microwave radio signals, and so he started experimenting with food and an electromagnetic field generator. Thankfully, his efforts weren’t in vain, and his company launched the first microwave oven in 1945.
Some other out-of-the-blue inventions...
In some instances, we can make a truly Earth-shattering discovery by pure happenstance. For instance, chemist Roy Plunkett found Teflon while working on a refrigerant while physicist and professor Wilhelm Röntgen discovered X-Rays while experimenting on cathode rays.
So you see, finding something new isn't that difficult. It only takes an eye and some observation skills.