mistakesThe stories of invention we hear most often are those that involve visionary people tirelessly experimenting to bring their world-changing vision to life. Despite years of of failure and ridicule, they persevere because they know they’re right. Thomas Edison and the Wright Brothers are two examples.

Another class of invention stories involves people who do not get discouraged by their failures, but in fact have the flexibility to see the opportunity their mistakes present and the courage to pursue new, and possibly strange, ideas.

One of the most famous stories of accidental invention is that of the microwave oven. Percy Spencer, a highly regarded expert in radar tube design, discovered that the candy bar in his pocket began to melt while experimenting with a new tube. Other scientists had experienced this side effect of their work with radar before, but Spencer, with his sticky pocket, saw the potential for a new way to heat food and spent the rest of the day popping popcorn and exploding eggs.

Saccharin, the first artificial sweetener, was invented when Constantin Fahlberg was doing experiments with coal-tar. He went home one night without washing his hands and noticed that his dinner tasted sweet. He remembered that he had spilled something on his hands earlier in the day and rushed back to the lab to start licking every vial, petri dish, and beaker. The man with the untidy lab who didn’t mind licking test tubes and didn’t wash his hands found the sweet substance in an overboiled beaker, and artificial sweeteners were born.

Other examples of mistakes turned to successes include silly putty, scotchgard, fireworks, and teflon. The stories of their invention are chock full of accidents, screw-ups, and bad lab practices. In each case, however, someone had the nerve to look at the mess they made, clean it up, believe in the positive potential of their failure, and try something new.

We hope that 2015 brings you happiness in whatever endeavors you’re passionate about and that you try new things, make mistakes, and keep your mind open to the opportunities your failures provide.

Start Making Mistakes Today!
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