Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Great mistakes

More from Sloane's lateral thinking book (see previous postings). Examples that demonstrate Mark Twain's view that 'the greatest of all inventors is accident.'

A monk names Dom Perignon invented champagne when a bottle of wine accidentally had a second fermentation.

1839 Charles Goodyear discovered vulcanization when he accidentally dropped some India rubber mixed with sulphur on a hot stove.

3M invented a glue that was not very sticky, but used it to make Post-it notes.

Pfizer were testing a new drug to relieve high blood pressure. It failed, but men found it had an interesting side effect and the drug became Viagra.

In 1978 the Sony Corporation were trying to develop a small, portable tape recorder. They could make a small machine, but not one that would record. It was going to be written off. But the chairman (Mr Ibuka) realised that combined with light weight headphones they were also developing they could make a new product. People scoffed at the idea of a tape recorded that could not record and did not have a speaker, but we know it as the walkman.

1928 Alexander Fleming was working with infectious bacteria. One lab dish became contaminated with mould. Instead of throwing it away. Fleming examined further and discovered penicillin.

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