Accidents May Happen: Fifty Inventions Discovered By Mistake
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From Wheaties to telephones, microwave ovens to yo-yos, here are the inspiring and often funny stories of 50 mistakes and misunderstandings that helped bring about life as we know it. With hilarious cartoons and wacky facts, this fascinating compendium illustrates the adage "If you don't learn from your mistakes, there's no sense making them."
BREAD An old superstition says that if bread does not rise in the oven, the Devil is hiding inside. Centuries ago cooks began cutting a cross on top of their loaves to force the Devil out and help the bread rise. The person who “invented” bread was probably less worried about the Devil and more worried about losing his head. Legend says that about 2600 B.C. an Egyptian slave was making flour-and-water cakes for his master. One evening he fell asleep and the fire went out before the cakes
(not in the oven), and the heat cooks the food. There is a legend behind the use of microwaves for cooking. Percy Le Baron Spencer was employed by the Raytheon Company during World War II. One day in 1942 he was working with magnatrons, which produce microwaves. When he pulled a candy bar from his pocket, it was a melted mess. Although Spencer was working on scientific experiments, not trying to invent a new way of cooking, he realized that it was the microwaves that had melted the candy.
is 100 pounds, gravity is pulling that person’s body toward the center of the earth with 100 pounds of force. Each planet has a different gravity force. A person who weighs 100 pounds on Earth would weigh 16 pounds on the moon, 38 pounds on the planet Mercury, 265 pounds on Jupiter, 39 pounds on Mars, 25 pounds out in space 4,000 miles from Earth, and 1 pound out in space 36,000 miles from Earth. PHOTOGRAPHY Museums have no photographs of Christopher Columbus, George Washington, Benjamin
of chemistry at the University of Basel in Switzerland. One day in 1846 he was experimenting with some chemicals in his wife’s kitchen when he broke a flask. The flask contained nitric and sulfuric acids. The chemicals spilled all over the floor. Schönbein couldn’t find a mop, so he grabbed his wife’s cotton apron to wipe up the mess. He then hung it in front of the hot stove to dry. When it got dry enough, it went poof! The apron flared up and disappeared. Schönbein had accidentally invented
growers could pick all their grapes, the heat shriveled them on the vine. The grapes were lost. One grower took the dried grape crop to a grocer in San Francisco. The grocer’s customers discovered that raisins made a delicious treat, and the “new” accidental raisins grew into a major industry in California. Today almost all the raisins eaten in the United States are grown within thirty miles of Fresno, California. California produces a third of the world’s raisins. Raisins are high in iron,