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Most Useful Inventions Created By Accident
Some of the items we use every day wouldn’t be possible without a little determination, elbow grease, and happy coincidences.
10 – Viagra
In “The Matrix,” Morpheus gives Neo two options: the red pill of painful and forbidden knowledge or the blue pill of blissful ignorance. While Neo chooses the red pill to save humanity, many men these days are taking the blue pill for a different kind of bliss than ignorance.
When Viagra was first being tested in 1989, its primary compound sildenafil citrate was meant to be a treatment for high blood pressure and angina, which are chest pains that often come hand in hand with heart conditions. As we all probably know by now, the little blue pill doesn’t do much for the heart but it DOES help men in… other areas further south.
While unexpected, it was perhaps more universally useful to customers and their loved ones alike — or at least it was quite a bit more enjoyable. In 1998, Viagra finally hit the shelves as a big solution to men’s small problems and has been used by millions every year in the 22 years since.
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9 – Super Glue
Before people were using it to repair dropped coffee mugs or play pranks on their sleeping friends, super glue had a much less innocent purpose. In 1942, the U.S. military needed better plastic sites on their guns to protect men overseas. Somehow, they wound up producing an extremely sticky compound that would give even Spider-Man’s web fluid a run for its money. It was ruled useless and forgotten for nearly a decade.
However, by 1951, the potential of this super glue was realized. There are a lot of clumsy people, after all, and a lot of things in desperate need of repair. Even the military eventually found use in this tough adhesive, though not in a way you’d expect. Instead of fixing broken helmets or perhaps ripped tents, super glue was used as a makeshift wound sealant in the 1960s. While not FDA approved and little more than a gooey bandaid, this allowed soldiers to get to medic tents before they lost too much blood. Super glue truly does make the best of a sticky situation.
8 – Dry Cleaning
We might not think much of it until we need to put on a business suit or we pull our favorite sweater from the wash ruined, but good dry cleaning is important. While dry cleaning as a technique has popped up throughout history, even as far back as Pompeii, the modern version we use today was supposedly created by a fluke.
In 1825, Jean Baptiste Jolly was working as one of many textile workers in France when his maid knocked over a lamp on his tablecloth. Don’t worry about Jolly’s maid’s or his home’s safety. I don’t know how familiar you are with the process of dry cleaning, but it doesn’t include drying by fire. Turpentine, not kerosene or embers, spilled onto the tablecloth. When the spot dried, Jolly noticed that it was cleaner than the rest. Dipping the whole tablecloth in a bathtub of turpentine brought the same result, so he knew what he had to do. It wasn’t long before the first modern dry cleaning store opened in Paris.
7 – Implantable Pacemaker
In 1956, Wilson Greatbatch was attempting to create a machine that would record heart rhythms, which we all know is quite lucrative just from the number of times heart monitors are featured in hospital dramas. However, Greatbatch mistakenly added a wrong electrical component. Instead of recording heartbeats, it imitated them with electrical pulses. Since pacemakers already existed — bulky and power-sucking as they were — he knew that this could stimulate and correct faulty hearts into healthier rhythms. This version, however, was small enough to be implanted in the body.
A working prototype of this revolutionary version was implanted in a dog 2 years later in 1958. By 1960, humans had their own. One of the first successful human patients was a young man who’d collapsed at work due to his heart condition, but with Greatbatch’s help lived another 30 years on his pacemaker.