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Sunday Challenge #15 – Serendipity!

Team StoryWeavers|August 01, 2022, 12:13 IST| 449

Welcome back to BYJU’S Sunday Challenge! In this edition, we explore accidents through history that unexpectedly led to fortunate discoveries and inventions. The topic for the week is ‘Serendipity’!


You can take a shot at the questions and field your guesses in the comments section below. Answers will be revealed on subsequent Sundays in the comment section. 

Ready? Here are your questions:

Question 1

The word ‘serendipity’ means ‘unexpected discovery’ or ‘fortunate chance’. The word derives from ‘Serendip’, the old Persian name for an island nation that is known by a different name today. The word Serendip itself is thought to be derived from ​​’Sinhaladvipa’. How do we better know the country today?

Question 2

In 1946, a young engineer at the Raytheon company, Percy Spencer was walking past a military-grade magnetron when he noticed that the chocolate bar in his pocket melted. What serendipitous invention followed as a result of this?

Question 3

This process of fortifying rubber was chanced upon by a 19th century American chemist and entrepreneur when he accidentally dropped some sulphur into liquid rubber. This process is named after the Roman God of fire. Name the process and the chemist (pictured below).

Question 4

During World War II, Dr Harry Coover was conducting research with chemicals known as cyanoacrylates in an effort to find a way to make a clear plastic that could be used for precision gunsights for soldiers. While working with the chemicals, he discovered that they were extremely sticky, and this property made them very difficult to work with. Cyanoacrylates found no use in the war effort but a decade later they became popular for a completely different reason, and are used widely even today. How do we better know cyanoacrylates? 

Question 5

On a hiking trip in 1941, Swiss engineer Georges de Mestral found burrs clinging to his pants and his dog’s fur. On closer inspection, he found that the burr’s hooks would cling to anything loop-shaped. He tried to artificially replicate this and this led to a serendipitous invention used widely even today. What did he create?

Leave your guesses in the comments section below. And remember, answers will be revealed next Sunday in the comments section too, along with a brand new edition of BYJU’S Sunday Challenge.

For answers to Sunday Challenge #14 – Click here.

To view all the other editions of the Sunday Challenge, click here.

About the Author

Suraj is a self-proclaimed audiophile and a jack-of-all-trades writer with a diverse set of interests. An amateur quizzer on the side, he claims that the first object he fell in love with was a book on flags at age 3. His favourite punctuation mark is the Oxford Comma, which coincidentally happens to be one of his favourite songs too!

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