Alan Alda creativity and innovation quotes

Some of the greatest things

 have come about by serendipity,

the greatest discoveries.

Alan Alda


Scientific Discoveries


Archimedes' Principle

Archimedes was busy thinking about how to find out whether the king's crown was made of solid gold. He suddenly understood that the volume of water displaced is equal to the volume of a subject submerged after he had stepped into a batch.

Newton's Law of Gravity

Isaac Newton was sitting beneath an apple tree contemplating the mysterious universe when the notion of gravitation came into his mind. It was occasioned by the fall of an apple. "Why should that apple always descend perpendicularly to the ground?" thought Newton to himself.


Wilhelm Roentgen, a physicist, was working with a cathode ray tube. Despite the fact that the tube was covered, he saw that a nearby fluorescent screen would glow when the tube was on and the room was dark. Roentgen tried to block the rays, but most things that he placed in front of them didn't seem to make a difference. When he placed his hand in front of the tube, he noticed he could see his bones in the image that was projected on the screen.


Intrigued by the discovery of x-rays, Henri Becquerel decided to investigate the connection between them and phosphorescence. Becquerel tried to expose photographic plates using uranium salts. He thought he needed sunlight to complete his experiment, but the sky was overcast. He stored his items and decided to wait for a sunny day. To his surprise he discovered the photographic plates were exposed despite the lack of light.


Invention of New Products



Dom Perignon, a monk, invented Champagne when a bottle of wine accidentally had a secondary fermentation.

Coca Cola

John Pemberton, the inventor of the Coca-Cola, just wanted to cure headaches. A pharmacist by profession, Pemberton used two main ingredients in his hopeful headache cure: coca leaves and cola nuts. When his lab assistant accidentally mixed the two with carbonated water, the world's first Coke was the result.


When Will Keith Kellogg cooked meals for patients at the Sanitarium at which he worked, he ended up accidentally stumbling across the recipe for Corn Flakes after leaving some bread dough sitting out for several hours. Upon finding the flaky dough he decided to see what would happen so he baked it anyway.


Alfred Nobel accidentally discovered dynamite. Nitroglycerin was becoming a widely produced explosive, but it had some serious problems. It was unstable and regularly blew up everything around. While working with nitroglycerin one afternoon, a vial slipped out of Nobel's hand, yet there was no explosion because the nitroglycerin landed in sawdust, which soaked it up. Nobel was later able to explode the sawdust, and concluded that mixing the nitroglycerin with an inert substance stabilized it.


Percy Spencer walked in front of a magnetron, a vacuum tube used to generate microwaves, and noticed that the chocolate bar in his pocket melted. After a few more experiments, Spencer successfully invented the first microwave oven.


Biologist Alexander Fleming took a vacation from his day-to-day work in the lab investigating staphylococci. Upon his return, the scientist found a strange fungus on a culture he had left in his lab ‒ a fungus that had killed off all surrounding bacteria in the culture.


Chemist Leo Hendrik Baekeland tried to invent a cheaper insulation material/ What he came up with however, was a moldable material that could be heated to extremely high temperatures without being distorted.

Potato Chips

George Crum, a chef, accidentally invented potato chips when an annoying patron kept sending his French-fried potatoes back to the kitchen because they were soggy. In an attempt to teach the customer a lesson, Crum sliced them extra thin, fried them to a crisp and drowned them in salt. To his surprise, the complaining customer liked them.

Post-it Note

Dr. Spencer Silver, a scientist at 3M, was attempting to develop a super-strong adhesive. Instead he accidentally created a "low-tack", reusable, pressure-sensitive adhesive.


Constantin Fahlberg, a chemist trying to find alternative uses for coal tar, came home after a long day of work only to notice that his wife’s biscuits tasted a lot sweeter. After asking her about it he realized he hadn’t washed his hands after work.

Safety Glass

After Édouard Bénédictus, a chemist, accidentally knocked a flask off of his desk it fell to the ground but rather than shattering it only cracked. Upon closer inspection he realized that it had recently contained plastic cellulose nitrate which had coated the inside of it and kept it from coming apart on impact.


Roy Plunkett, a chemist, accidentally stumbled across the non reactive, no stick chemical while experimenting with refrigerants.


On a hiking trip, Georges de Mestral found burrs clinging to his pants and also to his dog's fur. On closer inspection, he found that the burr's hooks would cling to anything loop-shaped. This accidental discovery led him to invention of hook and loop fasteners.  >>>


Pfizer originally introduced the chemical slatternly, the active drug in Viagra, as a heart medication. During clinical trials the drug proved ineffective for heart conditions. But men noted that the medication seemed to cause another effect ‒ stronger and longer lasting erections.

Vulcanized Rubber

Charles Goodyear had spent ages trying to find a way to make rubber resistant to heat and cold. After a number of failed attempts he finally stumbled across a mixture that worked. Before turning out the lights one evening he accidentally spilled some rubber, sulfur, and lead onto a stove resulting in a mixture that charred and hardened but could still be used.


Gary Hamel innovation quotes

Fact is, inventing an innovative business model is often mostly a matter of serendipity.

Gary Hamel


Vadim Kotelnikov on innovation

Develop serendipity open your mind and be prepared to make unexpected discoveries any time.





   From the same bunch of the keys to Innovation Success 360           Emfographics logo - Emotional Infographics          Vadim Kotelnikov personal logo      Case Studies     

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