A History of Accidental Progress and Mistaken Discoveries


For the majority of their history carrots were purple, not orange. As with most things in history this all changed when a King decided it should.

In the 17th Century a Dutch monarch found it an effective use of time and money to breed orange carrots. Why? To match the royal color of course – The House of Orange.

These orange mutants were found to be sweeter and less starchy, so they became the new staple.

Most great discoveries or changes in history initiate as an accident, or an irrational desire. Only later are these whimsical creations seen as being a better alternative. Everything from the Gin and Tonic to the evidence for the Big Bang, and the discovery of Teflon were complete accidents.

It really makes you question how intelligent we really are when our greatest minds build the future through a series of accidents and mistakes.

Charles Goodyear accidently dropped liquid rubber on his stove, and this accident was the discovery of vulcanized rubber – a mistake keeps you safe while you drive.

Toll House accidently invented chocolate chip cookies when vibrations from a mixer caused chocolate chips to spill into the mixing batter – the most popular flavor of cookie was a careless accident.

The microwave oven was invented when a scientist who fancies chocolate bars walked past a machine in his lab. The chocolate in his pocket began to melt. Melted pocket chocolate is an experience no one should have to endure, but he endured, he questioned, and he discovered.

Now there is a microwave in every home because of a scientist’s love for chocolate. If anyone ever tells you chocolate has no utility this will throw them for a loop.

We like to think the world we inhabit is manifested by our intentions, but more often than not our lives, our technologies, our knowledge, is a series of happy accidents. Next time you’re lamenting something that went wrong just remember – it’s only when things go wrong that we get the opportunity to learn something revolutionary about the world and about ourselves.

“The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not ‘Eureka!’ but ‘That’s funny…’” -Isaac Asimov

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