Happy Easter! We hope you enjoy the Easter break with your family. The Port Phillip Publishing offices are closed for the Easter holiday long weekend. We’ll resume our normal schedule on Tuesday, April 18. For now enjoy Sam’s article below.
We wager the name Betty James rings zero bells.
Don’t worry. We hadn’t heard Mrs. James’ story either, until a few days ago.
But we know you’ve likely seen, heard — and maybe even owned — the invention she named in 1943.
We’re talking about the ‘slinky’.
Yes, the spiral metal toy that could walk down a staircase. More than 300-odd million Slinky’s have flown from global toy store shelves in the 77 years since Betty coined the name.
Enough Slinkys — apparently — to circle the earth twice over.
The slinky rocketed Betty and her husband, Richard from broke, working class Philadelphians to certified US billionaires inside a few years. All by accident, mind you.
See, the slinky was never supposed to be a toy. Let me explain.
Betty’s husband Richard was a mechanical engineer toiling away at a shipbuilding company as the Second World War raged. One day he struck an idea to steady shipboard instruments during rough seas using tension springs. He dropped one by accident and was enthralled by the way it stepped across the room.
The slinky was born.
The slinky is no loner when it comes to accidental discoveries. The microwave oven, Velcro, Play-Doh and super glue were all accidents.
But the grand-daddy of all accidental discoveries? We award that honour to Alexander Fleming and penicillin.
Fleming was a messy bloke. After an extended holiday with family overseas he opened the door to his lab and met a familiar sight. A mess of lab equipment and petri dishes strewn across his desk.
But one petri dish caught Fleming’s eye. A staphylococcus sample, left open by mistake, was contaminated by blue-green mould.
A halo of inhibited bacterial growth surrounded the mould.
Fleming concluded the mould released a substance that halted the mould’s growth. That substance was penicillin.
Fleming later recalled, ‘When I woke up just after dawn on September 28, 1928, I certainly didn’t plan to revolutionize all medicine by discovering the world’s first antibiotic, or bacteria killer.
‘But I suppose that was exactly what I did.’
Before penicillin, a simple cut on your finger could spell death. Penicillin helped to virtually eliminate bacterial infections caused by staphylococci and streptococci. By some estimates Penicillin has saved more 200 million lives.
But unlike James and the slinky, Fleming’s life-saving, accidental discovery never earned him a penny.
Try as he might, he could never work out how to scale penicillin to commercial quantities.
But a (then) tiny pharmaceutical firm called Pfizer did.
Pfizer purpose built dozens of penicillin factories in the US. By 1945, Pfizer produced HALF the world’s penicillin supply.
Fleming didn’t see a penny from penicillin, but early Pfizer shareholders made a mint.
$1,000 in Pfizer stock in 1942 would be worth around $206,950 today (if you’d reinvested dividends you’d be up a lot more).
Penicillin Factory, Brooklyn NY
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If you’d laid a down $10,000, you’d sit on two million dollars today. Not a bad earner for an accidental discovery, right?
Well, guess what? We reckon we’ve found the next accidental medical breakthrough perched to go gangbusters over the next few years. And like early Pfizer investors, you could be well-rewarded IF your quick to jump aboard.
The greatest accidental medical breakthrough since penicillin
Like Betty James, the name Robert C Randall is probably a head-scratcher. Yet he was instrumental in what ranks as the biggest medical breakthrough in the last couple decades.
At an early age, Randall was diagnosed with glaucoma. A nasty eye disease where vision is slowly lost over time due to optic nerve damage.
In the 1970s he discovered — by accident — smoking marijuana improved his vision. By 1976, Randall became ‘one in 213 million’ — the only American legally allowed to use medical marijuana. For the next 20 years he was responsible for 34 new laws that recognised marijuana’s medical utility.
Thanks to his early efforts, science has cracked opened marijuana’s many medical benefits. We’re at the start-point of a new medical age, when cannabis-derived treatments could halt cancer, cure Arthritis, stop Parkinson’s in its tracks, reduce severe epileptic seizures, and much, much more.
The radical companies poised at the centre of cannabis’ revolution could deliver you Pfizer-sized wealth. And we’ve unmasked four ASX pot stocks that could be your ticket to ride the new wave of marijuana wealth.