In our efforts to accomplish a task, we may encounter setbacks and faults which may arise out of insufficient knowledge or inadequate ability. The result then tends to be a mistake.
Mistake can be defined as a wrong version of something that one hopes to create. The thing, having being created, was not expected to be a mistake, as the creator had been expecting what would meet a benchmark.
Most times, something unexpectedly useful comes out of the product, and it ends up being diverted into a different application.
The discovery of nylon is an example of mistake as creation. Initially, scientists planned a synthetic fabric to replace the very expensive silk. So, In 1927, the DuPont Company began a project to learn how polymers could be produced on an industrial scale since they were less expensive and readily available to more people.
DuPont employed a young American chemist, Wallace Hume Carothers as their other chemists were not making significant progress,
Carothers began to use long starting molecules as opposed to the procedures of previous chemists. The two molecules he chose, diamino-hexane and adipic acid combined into a polymer chain, which was named nylon 6, 6 because there were 6 carbon atoms in each of the original monomers.
Carothers, later credited as the inventor of nylon, understood that he was never getting anywhere if he followed the procedures of other chemists, so he tried something new, which generally, other scientists would call ‘a mistake’. For no one thought of it as a practice to combine long starting molecules. So he indeed, made a mistake.
Although, he didn’t discover a completely different material, as efforts had been in place to create a synthetic polymer. He achieved what they all needed – a worthy replacement for silk.
Mistake as creation leads to something unexpected, but not completely different, as it is needed for its practical applications, which can only be possible by making several attempts, thereby deviating from the usual way others attempt it.
Had WH Carothers followed the same footsteps as other chemists before him, he wouldn’t have been credited as inventor of the nylon today.
We should understand that when he started trying long starting molecules, he wasn’t getting exactly what he wanted, but he kept on trying, and as a chemist, Carothers knew what he was doing. He wasn’t working out of Ignorance. He has an idea of what could work and what couldn’t.
This goes a long way in explaining the role of knowledge or foresight when setting out for discovery.
Nothing new ever comes from Ignorance. Enlightenment which characterises thinkers sprouts well informed ideas that could in the long run, lead to a discovery or Mistake as Creation.