Are you absent-minded? Sometimes I wish I were. So many things were achieved by people who just left something in their pocket or forgot to switch off a machine.
Like what happened to this group of Swedish scientists. According to the British newspaper The Independent, they left their equipment switched on over the weekend by accident and ended up creating a synthetic form of the world's most absorbent material.
Their experiments to create what they now call Upsalite were not going well till the cock-up happened. Johan Gomez de la Torre, researcher at the Uppsala University, said: "A Thursday afternoon in 2011... by mistake (we) left the material in the reaction chamber. Back at work on Monday morning we discovered that a rigid gel had formed and after drying this gel we started to get excited."
The breakthrough has far-reaching commercial applications, including cleaning up huge oil spills.
It might also have been by chance that the US engineer William Percy had a bar of chocolate in his pocket when he visited a factory which produced equipment for radars. It was during the Second World War. Percy was intrigued when the sweet melted and he decided to investigate.
The scientist observed the effect the equipment had on popcorn and other foods and invented another machine with similar technology. It was the precursor to the microwaves we see today.
But we can't talk about accidental breakthroughs in science without mentioning the Scottish bacteriologist Alexander Fleming, who discovered penicillin, the first antibiotic, in 1928. Fleming came back to his laboratory after a holiday and observed a strange phenomenon in a dish used to grow microbes. He noticed a bacteria free circle around a growth of mould and realised that the mould was acting as an antibiotic killing the bacteria around it.
Maybe being absent-minded isn't a problem as long as you have the curiosity of a scientist. Get used to observing your surroundings. Who knows where it might lead?