“To invent, you need a good imagination and a pile of junk,” Thomas Edison said. Many of Edison’s quotes are about the importance of inspiration and work. With these two ingredients, the optimistic tinkerer can shape raw materials into brand new things.
Of course, this is a significant oversimplification of the process of innovation. Turning imagination into something fully realized is not a simple or clear-cut task, with the journey to many great advances looking a lot like stumbling around in the dark blindly.
From medicine and physics to the creation of new appliances, the process at the heart of changing the world may not often be beautiful, but the final result is. Here are six game-changing discoveries in which chance, curiosity and an open mind played a huge part: