Everyday Items That Are Actually Laboratory Mistakes

If everything great in this life was made intentionally, then we’d be much further along as a species. But some of the best things in life are surprises and accidents. And it’s those accidents that make us so much more comfortable today. Can you imagine life without safety pins or bubble wrap? Well, here are the stories of how they were made. 

1. Stainless Steel

In 2022, stainless steel is something we take for granted, despite the substance making revolutionary changes to our kitchen appliances, vehicles, medical equipment, architecture and even cutlery. A strong, noncorrosive metal? Sounds like something a scientist might be trying to invent deliberately, right? Wrong. Scientist Leon Gillet first made the steel alloy in 1904 but didn’t realize it was rustproof. Eight years later metallurgist, Harry Beary, in trying to create a rustproof gun barrel, found that adding chromium might work. He hit the jackpot and marketed it as “rustless steel.” Manufacturers soon began to develop new grades of the metal, which far exceeded Beary’s invention. 

2. Bubble Wrap

Bubble wrap is great for protecting our packages, but it’s also fun to pop. And it’s definitely something we take for granted. But do you know what this great invention was originally meant to be? Textured wallpaper, that’s what. In 1957, two scientists put two shower curtains together and added heat. The result was a partially fused sheet with tiny air bubbles. They tried using it as insulation, but that didn’t work either. A few years later, IBM, wanting to protect some delicate computer parts, used the plastic product. And so, bubble wrap was born. 

3. Safety Pins

Many lives would be over if the safety pin had not been invented. That seems like we’re exaggerating but do you know how many wardrobe malfunctions these things fix or save every day? Well, these lifesavers were accidents. Back in 1849, a New York mechanic by the name of Walter Hunt sat in his office playing with a piece of wire trying to figure out how to pay a $15 debt he had. He managed to twist it in a way that made it function as a pin, using a coiled spring at the bottom and a clasp at the top. While Hunt did patent his invention, he sold the rights to the person he owed $15. 

4. Super Glue

Researcher Harry Coover was in the process of trying to create a plastic lens for gunsights during WWII but ended up with a cyanoacrylate adhesive he thought was useless. He revisited the use of the product years later, in 1951, when he and a colleague were looking for a temperature-resistant coating for jet cockpits. They were shocked that the two lenses could not be pulled apart, ruining their expensive lab equipment. It was then that they realized the glue’s potential. By the late 1950s, it became a popular product for small household fixes.

5. Post-it Notes 

Life without Post-It Notes would be less colorful and much more forgetful. But they were a mistake. Chemist, Spencer Silver, who worked for 3M at the time (1968), tried to create a super strong hold glue, but instead made a weak adhesive that only worked for a short time. It wasn’t until 1973 that Arthur Fry, one of Silver’s colleagues, used the glue as a temporary bookmark for his hymnal, that the Post-It came to be. By 1980, the glue was used to line small squares of paper.


Recent Posts

Get AnyTrivia in your inbox.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.