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serendipity chp 1-1.5

serendipity chp 1-1.5 - Accidental discoveries Serendipity...

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Accidental discoveries – Serendipity in chemistry Do you know what the invention of the telephone, the Post-it note and the discovery of Velcro have in common? All were discovered by accident. Usually scientific progress is associated with rigorous research and analysis, but it’s not always the case. A surprising number of discoveries owe a lot to chance. Alexander Fleming’s discovery of penicillin is one example. It took place in 1928 when he left a culture plate smeared with Staphylococcus bacteria on his lab bench while he went on a two-week holiday. He came home to see that the culture had been contaminated by a fungus, which stopped the bacteria growing. He had discovered an antibiotic! This was by no means the first accidental discovery. Throughout the centuries, such discoveries have led to some of the world’s greatest breakthroughs in all areas of life. They were particularly numerous in the field of chemistry. Here are just a few more examples of inventions discovered by chance or ”happy accident” - sometimes discovered while scientists were looking for something entirely different! * Post-it notes In 1970, a chemist named Spencer Silver was working in the 3M research laboratories trying to develop strong glue. His work resulted instead in an adhesive that wasn’t very sticky. When pulling apart two pieces of paper stuck together with that adhesive, Spencer
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