Man at His Best

8 happy accidents that changed the world

Ok maybe not the whole world, but they definitely made life more enjoyable.

BY Patrick Chew | Feb 13, 2016 | Culture

Image from David Goehring / Flickr

Happy accidents happen all the time—when your plans get thwarted in ways that direct your attention to something far better (albeit sometimes completely unrelated) than you had initially intended. 

Missing the train in the morning might just see you meeting your future wife in the next one. Accidentally adding too much of a particular ingredient could result in a better dish. 

Often described as plain luck, happy accidents, on the contrary, can only occur when you maintain an open mind and a receptiveness to all possibilities instead of being fixated on the task at hand. Loosey-goosey, as they say. 

So just go with the flow and let the chips fall where they may because you might just end up changing the world. Let’s take a look at eight things that came about because people did. 

1 | Fireworks
It is said that 2000 years ago, a Chinese cook combined sulphur, charcoal and saltpetre in a bamboo tube in an experiment that resulted in the invention of fireworks. 

2 | The Leaning Tower of Pisa
This was meant to be just a regular tower. But soft ground caused it to tilt evermore sideways during its 199-year construction. Today, it is famed for this perfect flaw.

3 | Viagra
Where would 70-year-old yacht-owners and their bikini-clad teenage girlfriends be without this little treat? Two Pfizer researchers began developing a drug that would treat angina in the ‘80s. When looking at the side effects, they found out that the pills didn’t lower blood pressure; they just gave people hard-ons.

4 | Champagne
The climate of Champagne causes a second fermentation that, when controlled, carbonated wine. When Dom Perignon discovered this reaction, he declared, “I am drinking the stars.”

5 | Chewing Gum
In 1869, Thomas Adams attempted to make rubber for tyres using gum from chicle trees. He put one in his mouth to help him concentrate and think better and found it enjoyable to chew.

6 | Vulcanised Rubber
Thomas Adams was probably taking a page out of Charles Goodyear’s book. In the 1840s, Goodyear spilled rubber, lead and sulphur on a stove (what he was trying to achieve with rubber, lead and sulphur in the kitchen, we don’t know) that resulted in a charred leather-like substance. 

7 | Artificial Dye
The story of chemist William Perkin is that of a noble quest to find a cure for malaria but instead creating a substance that would go on to revolutionise the fashion industry. When attempting to make an artificial form of quinine, Perkin produced a dark purple sludge, which he isolated, patented and eventually sold.

8 | Bulgari B.zero1
The original B.zero1 was a commemorative ring released in 1999 for the new millenium, with the “B” representing Bulgari and the “zero1” representing “infinite beginnings”. The new updated version just released is termed the perfect mistake ring as a tribute to unexpected triumphs and the brand’s long history of taking a novel approach to design with unusual materials and disruptive aesthetic codes. 

The B.zero1 spiral is now enriched by the unexpected combination of pink, white and yellow gold and intricate geometries. The new ring is also presented in a two-gold edition of white and pink gold. Going along with the spirit of gold juxtaposition, the new B.zero1 collection goes even further with three bangles (white, pink and gold) and two other interpretations that feature diamonds in white and pink gold.