Read now History People generally attribute the discovery of penicillins to Alexander Fleming. The story goes that he returned to his laboratory one day in September to find a Petri dish containing Staphylococcus bacteria with its lid no longer in place.
Coping With Failure 9 Brilliant Inventions Made by Mistake Without a sloppy scientist, a creative Navy officer's wife, and a hasty sanatorium chef, we might not have penicillin, the Slinky, or Wheaties today.
Getty Think necessity is the mother of invention? There is a very thin line between brilliant innovation and absolute failure, as some of these inventors famously found out.
Some of the most popular products we use today were accidents stumbled on by clumsy scientists, chefs who spilled things, and misguided inventors who--in the case of the glue used on Post-it Notes--were trying to create the opposite of what they ended up with.
But we can all take comfort in knowing even some huge mistakes can come with silver linings, sometimes big enough to change entire industries. And sometimes, even forgetting to wash your hands has its advantages. Penicillin If Alexander Fleming's mother were around, we all might be a lot sicker.
Like anyone eager to go on vacation, Alexander Fleming left a pile of dirty petri dishes stacked up at his workstation before he left town.
When he returned from holiday on September 3,he began sorting through them to see if any could be salvaged, discovering most had been contaminated--as you might expect would happen in a bacteria lab in a hospital.
As has been well-documented in history books and on the Nobel Prize websiteFleming dumped most of the dishes in a vat of Lysol. But when he got to a dish containing staphylococcus, something odd caught his eye. The dish was covered in colonies of bacteria, except in one area where a blob of mold was growing.
Around the mold was an area free of bacteria, as if the mold had blocked the bacteria from spreading. He realized it could be used to kill a wide range of bacteria--and penicillin was identified. From that minor act of scientific sloppiness, we got one of the most widely used antibiotics today.
The Slinky Somehow if the song had gone: Everyone knows it's Industrial Equipment Stabilizers," it wouldn't have been quite as catchy. Yet that was the intended use of the springs naval engineer Richard James was developing in The sensitive springs were meant to keep fragile equipment steady on ships.
Then James knocked one of his new springs from a shelf and, like a kid on Christmas morning, watched it do that famous Slinky walk down instead of just hitting the ground, as Time noted in its all-time greatest toys list last year.
He took the creation home to show his wife, Betty, who saw the potential for a new toy. After consulting the dictionary, a name sprung sorry to mind: Slinky, a Swedish term meaning "sleek and sinuous. The industrial machine James had could coil 80 feet of wire into two inches, and hundreds of Slinkys were already being sold.
That's not all, either: The Slinky has found other uses, including as an antenna by soldiers in Vietnam and as a therapy tool.
Whatever the use, everyone knows it's Slinky. Wheaties Mmmm, delicious bran gruel…the breakfast of champions? Just try for a second to picture Michael Jordan posing with a slopping spoonful of semiliquid grain dripping from his chin.
The legend behind this famous cereal's creation did actually begin with bran gruel, which was what a clumsy dietician at the Washburn Crosby Company was preparing in when he spilled some on a hot stove top. The gruel drops sizzled and crackled into flakes. Once he gave a flake a taste, the cook realized his accident had created something that tasted way better than that old gruel.
He got the head honchos at Washburn on board, and they tried 36 different varieties of the creation before developing the perfect flake that wouldn't crumble in the box.
Even the name could have gone another way.Penicillin (PCN or pen) is a group of antibiotics which include penicillin G (intravenous use), penicillin V (use by mouth), procaine penicillin, and benzathine penicillin (intramuscular use).Penicillin antibiotics were among the first medications to be effective against many bacterial infections caused by staphylococci and grupobittia.com are still widely used today, though many types of.
Sir Alexander Fleming describes his discovery of penicillin. While competing in a game show called 'The greatest science investigator of all time', famous scientists from history . It turns out many of society's most well-known inventions were simply mistakes made by scientists on alternative quests.
How it was created: Jones was working with tension springs when one of them.
Sir Alexander Fleming describes his discovery of penicillin. While competing in a game show called 'The greatest science investigator of all time', famous scientists from history describe their. Penicillin, one of the first and still one of the most widely used antibiotic agents, derived from the Penicillium mold.
In Scottish bacteriologist Alexander Fleming first observed that colonies of the bacterium Staphylococcus aureus failed to grow in those areas of a culture that had been accidentally contaminated by the green mold Penicillium notatum.
Eric Lax is the author of Woody Allen, A Biography and Life and Death on 10 West, both New York Times Notable Books. His work has appeared in The New York Times Magazine, Vanity Fair, Life, The Atlantic Monthly, and Esquire, as well as in many other magazines and grupobittia.com lives with his wife and two sons in Los Angeles.