Accidents Do Happen

Barbara McAuliffe, Marketing Director for INTERPHEX. 

They say that necessity is the mother of invention.    Sometimes fate steps in and inventions happen by accident.  Or do they?

I’ve been thinking about this more after watching “The Social Network”.  In the movie, a young Mark Zuckerberg (Founder of Facebook) is in his dorm room at Harvard writing a blog to get back at his ex-girlfriend.  He then comes up with an idea to build a social network for his fellow Harvard classmates to judge the female students listed in the school “facebook”.  While some of the facts in the movie remain in question, it is still amazing to think how Facebook started out and what it has become – a social networking site used by an estimated 600 million people.

There are great examples of “accidental inventions” for every day items that we can’t live without.  For instance, what if Sir Alexander Fleming had properly stored the glass dish that when left out would reveal a fungus that prohibits the staphylococcus bacteria from growing?  We might not have penicillin.

You can thank the American engineer, Wilson Greatbatch for inserting the wrong type of resistor into his intended invention that would record irregular heartbeats.  Without this mistake, he would not have discovered that when the circuit pulsed, then was quiet, then pulsed again, it simulates the human heart resulting in what would become the first implantable cardiac pacemaker. 

I am personally grateful to railway magnate, Cornelius Vanderbilt for being a fussy customer at a restaurant in 1853 in Saratoga, NY.  Thanks to his complaining, the soggy French fries were replaced with a thin potato wafer that when fried was too crisp to be eaten with a fork – of course I am referring to the modern day potato chip.  No one can eat just one now thanks to Mr. Vanderbilt. 

Of course, not all inventions happen by accident.  Many come from years of hard work, intelligence and passion.   So I ask the question, what inspires you?  How do you find creative solutions to problems and challenges.  How do you find out what you don’t know?

I’d like to think of INTERPHEX as an inspirational and intellectual playground made up of the latest products, innovations and technologies for biopharmaceutical manufacturing.  

What have you learned at INTERPHEX that you did not know before you went to the show?  Did it result in a new product, innovation or solution?

Barbara McAuliffe is the Marketing Director for INTERPHEX – follow her on Twitter at INTERPHEX_Barb or contact by email at


Official blog of: INTERPHEX New York -
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