5 Surprising Things Discovered by Accident

Estimated read time 3 min read

Sometimes the best discoveries happen when you least expect them. It’s like stumbling upon a hidden treasure while digging in your backyard. History is full of such happy accidents, leading to inventions and discoveries that have changed the world in unexpected ways. Let’s explore five surprising things that were discovered purely by chance.

Roulette Wheel

Believe it or not, the roulette wheel, a staple in casinos worldwide, started as a science experiment. In the 17th century, French mathematician Blaise Pascal was trying to create a perpetual motion machine. That’s a device that would continue to move without any external energy source – and today we know it’s impossible to build. While he obviously didn’t succeed in defying the laws of physics, he did end up inventing the roulette wheel.

Today, it’s hard to imagine a casino without the spinning wheel and the sound of the bouncing ball. People play roulette in casinos all over the world. All this thanks to a happy little accident made by one of the smartest men ever.

Safety Glass

Safety glass is something we often take for granted, especially in car windshields and windows. But its discovery was a total accident. In 1903, a French chemist named Édouard Bénédictus dropped a glass flask that had been coated with a plastic cellulose film. To his surprise, the glass shattered but didn’t break into sharp pieces. This made him experiment more, and this led to the invention of laminated safety glass.

Safety glass is used everywhere from cars and buses to shower doors and protective windows. The result of an accident keeps us safe from others.

Corn Flakes

Corn Flakes, the popular breakfast cereal, were born out of a mishap. In 1894, the Kellogg brothers, John and Will, were trying to make granola but ended up flaking wheat by mistake. This made them wonder if they could do the same with other grains.

They tried the same process with corn and – voila – Corn Flakes were created. This crunchy breakfast quickly became a hit, and it remains a breakfast staple in many households around the world.

Vulcanized Rubber

Vulcanized rubber, found in everything from tires to hockey pucks, is the result of another accident. It was invented by Charles Goodyear – don’t be surprised if the name sounds familiar.

In 1839, Goodyear was experimenting with natural rubber, trying to make it more durable. He accidentally dropped a mix of rubber and sulphur onto a hot stove. The resulting material was much more resilient than natural rubber.

This happy accident led to the creation of vulcanized rubber. And this revolutionized industries and everyday life.


Last but not least, there’s Teflon, best known for making non-stick cookware. Contrary to popular belief, this “forever chemical” wasn’t invented at NASA. In 1938, Roy Plunkett, a chemist at DuPont, was experimenting with refrigerants. During his work, he stumbled upon a strange, slippery substance – polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE). This substance, later named Teflon, turned out to be incredibly heat-resistant and had very low surface friction.

Teflon has since found its way into various applications, most notably in the kitchen. And, after making our lives easier for years, it was declared undesirable by scientists.

These discoveries remind us that sometimes, the best inventions come about through accidents. From the casino floors to breakfast tables and even our cars, these accidental inventions play a significant role in our daily lives. It goes to show that sometimes, a bit of luck and an open mind can lead to extraordinary things.

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