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The Great Accidental Discoveries Quiz
by Staff
Sometimes our purposeful investigations are trumped by inadvertent epiphanies. How much do you know about our best accidental discoveries?

The adhesive used in which product was originally imagined as a way to make bulletin boards sticky, and thus, render tacks unnecessary?

  • envelopes
  • super glue
  • Post-its

The first ice cream cones were made out of what, due to sudden necessity?

  • waffles
  • pancakes
  • bread

Experiments meant to manufacture transparent gun sights for WWII resulted in what newfangled product?

  • heat-resistant oven mitts
  • plastic grocery sacks
  • super glue

In 1928, what did Alexander Fleming discover thanks to a Petri dish that was inadvertently left uncovered?

  • That mosquitos transmit disease
  • Penicillin
  • Cure for cholera

A shortage of baker's chocolate led to the invention of which famous food?

  • Angel food cake
  • Chocolate chip cookies
  • Pecan pie

Boiled wheat accidentally left out in open air resulted in which popular food product?

  • corn flakes
  • doughnut holes
  • bread bowls

Stainless steel was invented by a 20th-century metallurgist who was working on making which product?

  • firearms
  • pick axes
  • shovels

In 1907, combining phenol with formaldehyde (and some other chemicals) accidentally resulted in which material?

  • better papers
  • cleaning solutions
  • plastic

How were Popsicles invented?

  • as part of a hazardous waste clean-up effort
  • a boy left his drink out in the cold.
  • a laboratory chemical accident

In an effort to gauge the horsepower of navy ships, an engineer accidentally made which famous toy?

  • The Whee-lo
  • The Slinky
  • The Yo-yo

In 1870, what did Thomas Adams accidentally invent when he was researching rubber substitutes?

  • Silly Putty
  • Play-Doh
  • Chewing gum

A Russian chemist discovered which chemical by accident when he tasted his own hands?

  • Saccharin
  • Solanin
  • Amygdalin

Problems with a byproduct called "rod wax" perturbed oil workers but helped the human body heal. What product was it turned into?

  • an antibiotic gel
  • Vaseline
  • the first skin lotion

Which product was originally intended to clean wallpaper but accidentally wound up in an entirely different market category?

  • super glue
  • Gellie Baff
  • Play-Doh

Edouard Benedtictus dropped a glass flask and accidentally discovered what?

  • safety glass
  • unbreakable plastics
  • stainless steel

In 1945, Percy Spencer was trying to power radar equipment when he accidentally demonstrated the concepts for which product?

  • high-powered floodlights
  • microwave oven
  • infrared camera

Which product was unintentionally inspired by tangled dog fur?

  • Velcro
  • Zippers
  • Snap buttons

Chinese experimenters were looking to create a concoction that led to eternal life but instead made what?

  • Mustard gas
  • Land mines
  • Gunpowder

How did John Walker accidentally discover friction matches?

  • He accidentally set his house on fire.
  • He accidentally struck the first match against a hard surface.
  • He accidentally blew up his laboratory.

In an effort to treat eye-muscle problems, a married couple accidentally created what product?

  • Botox
  • mascara
  • eyeliner

In 1901, Wilhelm Conrad Rontgen was awarded a Nobel Prize for accidentally discovering which phenomenon?

  • Refraction
  • Magnetic resonance
  • X-rays

His work with phosphorescent materials led Henri Becquerel to the accidental discovery of what?

  • radioactivity
  • photography
  • magnetic resonance

In 1856, what was William Perkins attempting to create when he accidentally made the world's first clothing dye?

  • synthetic quinine
  • alcohol
  • a new stove fuel

Coca-Cola was originally meant to do what?

  • cure headaches
  • dissolve battery corrosion
  • make solutions more conductive for electrical purposes

Which drug was originally intended to treat heart problems but inadvertently became popular for other reasons?

  • Aspirin
  • Viagra
  • Zocor

"Smart dust" was accidentally created when what object shattered?

  • Silicon chips
  • Glass
  • Circuit boards

In the 1850's, which food was born from a chef's frustration with a customer?

  • Pretzels
  • Potato chips
  • Fried cheese curds

Roy Plunkett wanted to make a new kind of refrigeration chemical but wound up making what instead?

  • Teflon
  • Bakelite
  • Buna rubbers

So-called "laughing parties," held in the 1800s, led to which discovery?

  • Anesthesia
  • Morphine
  • happiness

How did Charles Goodyear accidentally make rubber weatherproof?

  • He set it on fire.
  • He dropped it on a hot stove.
  • He mixed it with explosive ingredients.