Glorious accidents aren’t supposed to happen any more.
Alexander Graham Bell probably hoped the first words ever said over his new-fangled telephone would be profound and meaningful, resonating down the ages.
Instead, they turned out to be ‘Mr Watson, come here, I want to see you’, uttered after he accidentally spilled some acid.
Sir Alexander Fleming might easily have thrown out the petri dishes contaminated with mold, but decided to have a second look and discovered penicillin.
And Roy Plunkett was studying refrigerant gas when he came up with Teflon, after studying a white powder produced because of a faulty valve.
These sorts of glorious accidents aren’t supposed to happen any more.
Nowadays, new discoveries are supposed to be churned out of anonymous laboratories as a result of efficient – if sometimes dull – research.
But Chris Williams, a biologist from Wales working in Mayo, was waiting for a batch of flies to hatch in a jam-jar when he found that wasps emerged instead.
The parasitic wasps lay their eggs inside fly larvae, and the bugs then eat their way out from the inside.
It’s nice to know surprises are still possible.