Did you know plastic was created during a Belgium-born scientist’s search to find a substance to replace beetle poop?
That’s right. In the early 20th century, beetle excrement was used to create shellac, a resin material used to line the inside of electronics. During chemist Leo Baekland’s experimentation with formaldehyde and phenol (an acid extracted from coal tar), he noticed that a new substance emerged. It was extremely durable, moldable, heat-resistant and totally non-conductive.
He called his discovery “Bakelite,” the first plastic. This material has found its way into so many of our everyday products, such as auto parts, camera, telephone casings (if you remember those), the buttons on our clothes, clocks, radios, toys and chess pieces, just to tick off some.
It’s difficult to envision a world without plastic. Here are five more life-altering innovations that were founded by accident.
Related: 5 Amazing Innovations Coming to Cars