Science's Accidental Successes

From Viagra and saccharine to penicillin and x-rays, science and serendipity often go hand in hand. Here are seven accidental discoveries that changed the world.

Medicine is science applied to the human body - and medical experiments are so complex and varied that things frequently don't turn out as hoped. And, just to add a touch of comedy, accidents in this field are often crotch-oriented. The most famous below-the-belt invention of modern times was Viagra. The drug was meant to help patients with angina, a painful heart condition in which the circulatory system constricts and does not get enough oxygenated blood to the heart. Although the medication failed to treat the disease, it had a side effect of increasing blood flow elsewhere.

A dark matter hurricane is crashing into Earth

Giving our solar system a "slap in the face"

Surprising Science
  • A stream of galactic debris is hurtling at us, pulling dark matter along with it
  • It's traveling so quickly it's been described as a hurricane of dark matter
  • Scientists are excited to set their particle detectors at the onslffaught
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Science confirms: Earth has more than one 'moon'

Two massive clouds of dust in orbit around the Earth have been discussed for years and finally proven to exist.

J. Sliz-Balogh, A. Barta and G. Horvath
Surprising Science
  • Hungarian astronomers have proven the existence of two "pseudo-satellites" in orbit around the earth.
  • These dust clouds were first discovered in the sixties, but are so difficult to spot that scientists have debated their existence since then.
  • The findings may be used to decide where to put satellites in the future and will have to be considered when interplanetary space missions are undertaken.
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New study reveals what time we burn the most calories

Once again, our circadian rhythm points the way.

Photo: Victor Freitas / Unsplash
Surprising Science
  • Seven individuals were locked inside a windowless, internetless room for 37 days.
  • While at rest, they burned 130 more calories at 5 p.m. than at 5 a.m.
  • Morning time again shown not to be the best time to eat.
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