I was browsing the web a few weeks ago and stumbled upon an article about 10 Unexpected Discoveries that changed the world.
And seeing that I had my own unexpected surprises during (and before) my trip to Istanbul, I thought I’d share four BIG ones that changed the way the world works with you in today’s post. The article does a great job of describing each discovery. I’ve posted it below…
Forever enshrined in scientific legend, the discovery of penicillin—a group of antibiotics used to combat a variety of bacterial infections—is really just a case of dirty dishes. Scottish biologist Alexander Fleming took an August vacation from his day-to-day work in the lab investigating staphylococci, known commonly as staph. Upon his return on Sept. 3, 1928, the perceptive scientist found a strange fungus on a culture he had left in his lab—a fungus that had killed off all surrounding bacteria in the culture. Modern medicine was never the same.
Sometimes all you really need to make the next leap in science is a snack. Percy Spencer was an American engineer who, while working for Raytheon, walked in front of a magnetron, a vacuum tube used to generate microwaves, and noticed that the chocolate bar in his pocket melted. In 1945 after a few more experiments (one involving an exploding egg), Spencer successfully invented the first microwave oven. The first models were a lot like the early computers: bulky and unrealistic. In 1967, compact microwaves would begin filling American homes.
Snacking, then, is good for science.
On one particular hiking trip in 1941, Swiss engineer Georges de Mestral found burrs clinging to his pants and also to his dog’s fur. On closer inspection, he found that the burr’s hooks would cling to anything loop-shaped. If he could only artificially re-create the loops, he might be on to something.
The result: Velcro. A combination of the words “velvet” and “crochet,” the material had trouble gaining traction in the fashion industry. But one of its most notable clients in the 1960s was NASA. The agency used the material in flight suits and to help secure items in zero gravity. After that, it became a space-age fashion all its own, allowing kids everywhere to put off learning how to tie shoelaces.
In 1938, Roy Plunkett, a scientist with DuPont, was working on ways to make refrigerators more home-friendly by searching for ways to replace the current refrigerant, which was primarily ammonia, sulfur dioxide, and propane. After opening the container on one particular sample he’d been developing, Plunkett found his experimental gas was gone. All that was left was a strange, slippery resin that was resistant to extreme heat and chemicals.
In the 1940s the material was used by the Manhattan project. A decade later it found its way into the automotive industry. It wasn’t until the ’60s that Teflon would be used for its most noted application: nonstick cookware.
Read the full article here.
Imagine if Alexander Fleming hadn’t become a scientist, modern medicine would look very different. And what would have happened if Georges de Mestral hadn’t gone walking with his dog or hadn’t been curious about the burrs attached to his clothes?
You never know when the next unexpected discovery will be made, but you can almost always guarantee the more action you take… the more adventures you go on… the closer you’ll be to your next big break.
Cheers to more unexpected adventures!
Until then… stay passionate!