Alexander Fleming was not the tidiest scientist in the world.

In fact, if Fleming were a science student today he’d probably be reprimanded for his disheveled habits.

You see, in order to maintain the integrity of one’s research, cleanliness is key. Every scientist knows that. The last thing you need is foreign objects contaminating your experiment.

But Fleming may not have been the best with that.

Accidental Success

 

He did his work in the early 20th century. The Great Influenza had already killed millions and Fleming was trying to find a cure in case the flu reared its deadly head again.

But, alas, nothing was coming out of his experiments. So he did what any great scientist would do: he went on vacation.

I’m sure it was a pleasant week at the waterside with his family.

When he returned to his lab, Senor Sloppy discovered a mold had contaminated his experiment.

Surprise? No.

But as he looked more closely at the mold, he noticed that it had neutralized the influenza cells.

By golly.

From this unexpected mold, Alexander Fleming discovered penicillin and, in the process, changed the world. His accident paved the way for the creation of antibiotics which now treat everything from acne to anthrax.

Accidental Success

Accidental Success

There are a lot of stories from history in which the resulting success was far different than the expected goal.

In 1989, Pfizer scientists were searching for a cure for heart disease. But while testing their heart pill they noticed that their male subjects were experiencing a rush of blood in, well, an area quite a bit south of the heart. Instead of heart disease, the scientists accidentally cured erectile dysfunction. And that’s how Viagra was born.

Leo Baekeland was a chemist in the early 1900s when he tried to discover a new resin. His motivation? He thought discovering a