The Post Quiz: Accidental Genius

1 Conversation

Which inventions came about by accident?

The Post Quiz: Accidental Genius

Were you the kind of kid who spent a lot of time looking out the window daydreaming? The teacher told you this was Wrong, right?

Forget it. These discoveries happened while the inventors were thinking about something else. Guess what it was?

  1. Swiss chemist Albert Hoffmann accidentally swallowed his fungus experiment in 1929. He had to go home and lie down and watch the pretty pictures. What had he discovered?
  2. At the Battle Creek Sanitarium, baker Will K. left his dough out, and it got all…flaky. What did he accidentally invent?
  3. Do you remember all those dreary westerns, where they had to carry nitroglycerin over the mountains in a shaky buckboard wagon? Yeah, us, too. But accidental spillage of nitro onto a gravelly substance called kieselguhr gave Alfred Nobel an idea. What did he invent that made those ghastly nail-biting westerns obsolete?
  4. In 1879, Constantine Fahlberg accidentally discovered saccharin, an artificial sweetener. What poor lab practice led to this breakthrough?
  5. In 1945, Percy Spencer was standing in front of some radar equipment when he felt a strange sensation in his pocket. (Quiet in the back.) His candy bar had melted. What invention do we owe to Percy Spencer's habit of snacking on the job?
  6. Harry Coover was working on plastic gun parts during World War II, but the cyanoacrylates were way too sticky. What did he invent instead?
  7. In the 1980s, Simon Campbell and David Roberts at Pfizer labs were trying to make a blood pressure pill. But their male patients noticed a curious side effect…what's the pill called that popped up unexpectedly?
  8. The beautifully named Wilson Greatbatch invented something lifesavingly useful in 1958 – when he absentmindedly picked up the wrong transistor to put in his oscillator. What heartwarming invention resulted?
  9. Electrical engineer George De Mestral was annoyed at the cockleburs on his dog's fur. (So was the dog, we bet.) But NASA is really happy about those cockleburs. What invention did they lead to?
  10. In 1844, scientist Horace Wells hung out at a 'laughing party'. (He was one of those scientists, like the guy who invented Infinite Improbability.) After Wells saw a partygoer fall down and cut himself – and keep laughing – he had an idea, which was pretty remarkable under the circumstances. What medical specialty had Wells just accidentally discovered?

You knew all that, right? Just in case, the answers are available upon clicking the inspirational picture.

A Victorian doctor and his patient
Post Quiz and Oddities Archive

Dmitri Gheorgheni

08.08.16 Front Page

Back Issue Page

Bookmark on your Personal Space

Conversations About This Entry



Infinite Improbability Drive

Infinite Improbability Drive

Read a random Edited Entry


h2g2 is created by h2g2's users, who are members of the public. The views expressed are theirs and unless specifically stated are not those of the Not Panicking Ltd. Unlike Edited Entries, Entries have not been checked by an Editor. If you consider any Entry to be in breach of the site's House Rules, please register a complaint. For any other comments, please visit the Feedback page.

Write an Entry

"The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is a wholly remarkable book. It has been compiled and recompiled many times and under many different editorships. It contains contributions from countless numbers of travellers and researchers."

Write an entry
Read more