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时间:2021-05-18 13:59:20 点击:

Are you absent-minded? Sometimes I wish I were. So many things were achieved by people who just left something in their pocket or forgot to switch off a machine.
 
Like what happened to this group of Swedish scientists. According to the British newspaper The Independent, they left their equipment switched on over the weekend by accident and ended up creating a synthetic1 form of the world's most absorbent material.
 
Their experiments to create what they now call Upsalite were not going well till the cock-up happened. Johan Gomez de la Torre, researcher at the Uppsala University, said: "A Thursday afternoon in 2011... by mistake (we) left the material in the reaction chamber2. Back at work on Monday morning we discovered that a rigid3 gel had formed and after drying this gel we started to get excited."
 
The breakthrough has far-reaching commercial applications, including cleaning up huge oil spills.
 
It might also have been by chance that the US engineer William Percy had a bar of chocolate in his pocket when he visited a factory which produced equipment for radars4. It was during the Second World War. Percy was intrigued5 when the sweet melted and he decided6 to investigate.
 
The scientist observed the effect the equipment had on popcorn7 and other foods and invented another machine with similar technology. It was the precursor8 to the microwaves we see today.
 
But we can't talk about accidental breakthroughs in science without mentioning the Scottish bacteriologist Alexander Fleming, who discovered penicillin9, the first antibiotic10, in 1928. Fleming came back to his laboratory after a holiday and observed a strange phenomenon in a dish used to grow microbes. He noticed a bacteria free circle around a growth of mould and realised that the mould was acting11 as an antibiotic killing12 the bacteria around it.
 
Maybe being absent-minded isn't a problem as long as you have the curiosity of a scientist. Get used to observing your surroundings. Who knows where it might lead?

作者:佚名 来源:不详
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