What do Velcro, a dog's fur and cocklebur plants have in common? Though the list seems quite random, there's more to it if you look closer.
Such was the thinking of George De Mestral, an electrical engineer, after returning from a walk with his canine companion. Once inside, De Mestral noticed how perfectly cockleburs bound to his dog's fur. So, with microscope in hand, he examined the bur closely.
He discovered that the cocklebur was lined with numerous tiny hooks that could easily attach to the loops of his clothing and the fur of his dog. With this concept in mind, De Mestral toyed around with other materials, creating surfaces with hooks and loops to develop a stronger bond. In 1955, De Mestral settled on nylon as his material to perfect his accidental invention, calling it Velcro. Today we still use Velcro, or a similar product, in our daily lives.
Mold stars in the next accidental discovery. Read on to find out whether you've benefited from it.
An Out-of-this-world Invention Velcro's popularity spans beyond Earth's atmosphere. In fact, there's a longstanding rumor that NASA invented Velcro because of its frequent appearance in space missions. Velcro comes in handy to secure objects in outer space environments with zero gravity. Astronauts have used Velcro to keep track of personal items and even to play board games. One astronaut working at the International Space Station brought a chessboard with pieces lined with Velcro that could be anchored and removed from the board with ease [source: McClain]. His main chess opponents: mission control correspondents on Earth.