Real Life

Accidental Inventions
The Popsicle- In 1905 11-year old Frank Epperson tried making soda pop then a popular drink by mixing soda water powder and water. Accidentally he left the soda out on his porch all night. Temperatures dropped so low that the next day young Epperson found his soda pop had frozen with the stirring stick in it! He didnt know it then but he had accidentally concocted the very first popsicle! It wasnt until 18 years later in 1923 that Epperson remembered his invention applied for a patent and started selling "Eppsicle" ice pops iin different fruit flavors. Later on his kids started referring to it as the "Popsicle" and ever since its been hard to resist the refreshing allure of this tangy summer treat!

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The Microwave- In 1945 Percy Lebaron Spencer an American engineer and inventor was busy working on manufacturing magnetrons the devices used to produce the microwave radio signals that were integral to early radar use. Radar was an incredibly important innovation during the time of war but microwave cooking was a purely accidental discovery.While standing by a functioning magnetron Spencer noticed that the chocolate bar in his pocket had melted. His keen mind soon figured out that it was the microwaves that had caused it and later experimented with popcorn kernels and eventually an egg which (as we all could have told him from mischievous childhood experiments) exploded.The first microwave oven weighed about 750lbs and was about the size of a fridge.

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Ice Cream Cone- Before 1904 ice cream was served on dishes. It wasnt until the Worlds Fair of that year held in St Louis Missourithat two seemingly unrelated foodstuffs became inexorably linked together.At this particularly 1904 Worlds Fair a stall selling ice cream was doing such good business that they were quickly running out of dishes. The neighboring stall wasnt doing so well selling Zalabia a kind of wafer thin waffle from Persia and the stall owner came up with the idea of rolling them into cone shapes and popping the ice cream on top. Thus the ice cream cone was born.

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Champagne- While many know that Dom Pierre Prignon is credited for the invention of champagne it was not the 17th century Benedictine monks intention to make a wine with bubbles in it in fact he had spent years trying to prevent just that as bubbly wine was considered a sure sign of poor winemaking.Prignons original wish was to cater for the French courts preference for white wine. Since black grapes were easier to grow in the Champagne region he invented a way of pressing white juice from them. But since Champagnes climate was relatively cold the wine had to be fermented over two seasons spending the second year in the bottle. This produced a wine loaded with bubbles of carbon dioxide which Prignon tried but failed to eradicate. Happily the new winewas a big hitwith the aristocratic crowds in both the French and English courts.

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Brandy- Medieval wine merchants used to boil the H20 out of wine so their delicate cargo would keep better and take up less space at sea. Before long some intrepid soul - probably a sailor decided to bypass the reconstitution stage and brandy was born.

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Post-It Notes- The invention of the humble Post-It Note was an accidental collaboration between second-rate science and a frustrated church-goer. In 1970 Spencer Silver a researcher for the large American corporation 3M had been trying to formulate a strong adhesive but ended up only managing to create a very weak glue that could be removed almost effortlessly. He promoted his invention within 3M but nobody took any notice.4 years later Arthur Fry a 3M colleague and member of his church choir was irritated by the fact that the slips of paper he placed in his hymnal to mark the pages would usually fall out when the book was opened. One service he recalled the work of Spencer Silver and later applied some of Silvers weak yet non-damaging adhesive to his bookmarks. He found that the little sticky markers worked perfectly and sold the idea to 3M. Trial marketing began in 1977 and today youd find it hard to imagine life without them.

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Potato chipscrisps- In 1853 in a restaurant in Saratoga New York a particularly fussy diner (railway magnate Cornelius Vanderbilt) repeatedly refused to eat the fries he had been served with his meal complaining that they were too thick and too soggy. After he had sent back several plates of increasingly thinly-cut fries the chef George Crum decided to get his own back by frying wafer-thin slices of potato in grease and sending them out.Vanderbilt initially protested that the chefs latest efforts were too thin to be picked up with a fork but upon trying a few the chips were an instant hit and soon everybody in the restaurant wanted a serving. This led to the new recipe appearing on the menu as Saratoga Chips before later being sold all over the world.

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Penicillin- Sir Alexander Fleming was researching a strain of bacteria called staphylococci. Upon returning from holiday one time in 1928 he noticed that one of the glass culture dishes he had accidentally left out had become contaminated with a fungus and so threw it away. It wasnt until later that he noticed that the staphylococcus bacteria seemed unable to grow in the area surrounding the fungal mould. Fleming didnt even hold out much hope for his discovery it wasnt given much attention when he published his findings the following year it was difficult to cultivate and it was slow-acting it wasnt until 1945 after further research by several other scientists that penicillin was able to be produced on an industrial scalechanging the way doctors treated bacterial infections forever.

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The Pacemaker- Like penicillin here is another accidental invention that continues to save lives to this day. American engineer Wilson Greatbatch was working on a gadget that recorded irregular heartbeats when he inserted the wrong type of resistor into his invention. The circuit pulsed then was quiet then pulsed again prompting Greatbatch to compare this reaction with the human heart and work on the worlds first implantable cardiac pacemaker.Before the implantable version was used on humans from 1960 onwards pacemakers had been based on the external model invented by Paul Zoll in 1952. These were about the size of a television and dealt out considerable jolts of electricity into the patients body which often caused the skin to burn. Greatbatch also went on to devise a lithium-iodide battery cell to power his pacemaker.

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Superglue- More sticky stuff though this one was famous for its high adhesive value unlike Silvers Post-It Notes. Superglue came into being in 1942 when Dr Harry Coover was trying to isolate a clear plastic to make precision gun sights for handheld weaponry. For a while he was working with chemicals known as cyanoacrylates which they soon realized polymerized on contact with moisture causing all the test materials to bond together. It was obvious that these wouldnt work so research moved on.6 years later Coover was working in a Tennessee chemical plant and realized the potential of the substance when they were testing the heat resistance of cyanoacrylates recognizing that the adhesives required neither heat nor pressure to form a strong bond. Thus after a certain amount of commercial refinement Superglue (or Alcohol-Catalyzed Cyanoacrylate Adhesive Composition to give it its full name) was born.It was later used for treating injured soldiers in Vietnam the adhesive could be sprayed on open wounds stemming bleeding and allowing easier transportation of soldiers adding a delicious layer of irony to the story in that a discovery made during an effort to improve the killing potential of guns ended up saving countless lives.

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