My Story Came In 4th In A Global Competition

Michael Trigg
7 min readDec 18, 2020

I was very surprised. Maybe I can write.

An image of a laptop computer with text on the screen.
Image By: Dan Counsell, Unsplash.

Some of the world’s greatest products and discoveries were stumbled upon by accident. A few inventions are the opposite of what the inventor first had in mind. Some discoveries, such as the law of gravity, came about through happenstance.

1. Dreaming Up a Big Idea

The 19th-century German scientist August Kekule is regarded to this day as one of the principal founders of modern organic chemistry and a leader in his day of innovation in the chemical industry.

No 19th-century discovery is more famous than Kekule’s dream-state vision of the makeup of the benzene atom. It came to him in a dream while dozing in front of a fire in his home during the winter of 1861–62 in Ghent, Belgium, where he worked as a professor of chemistry at the Ghent University.

He asserted the vision in the dream revealed the atomic structure of the benzene ring. The dream was in the form of a self-devouring snake Kekule said. In 1865 he reported his discovery as the basis for another major group of carbon molecules that allowed carbon to bond in many different ways and with many different elements.

Of all the cases referred to by psychiatrists, psychologists and historians of science to shed light on the role of symbolism in creative thought, few are more controversial, praised and discussed than Kekule’s discovery.

At least one historian believed Kekule never did experience the “snake vision dream” and claimed the benzene ring had previously been considered by other chemists around the time Kekule’s claim was first published. Dr. John H. Wotiz, a professor of chemistry at Southern Illinois University carried out an exhaustive study of Kekule’s documents that were left to his scientific heirs after his death.

He organized a conference of peers in 1990 to try to sort fact from fiction by reviewing Kekule’s claims but the conference came to an inconclusive end after Wotiz and his wife were killed in an auto accident in 2001. In the aftermath, the affair seems to have been less about who deserved credit for the discovery of the benzene ring structure and more about whether the history of chemistry should be written by historians with a limited chemistry background.

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Michael Trigg

A “Jack of all Trades” and master of some: Mechanic, Writer, Sales Rep, TV producer, Management, Insurance Agent, Consultant www.handshakeconsultants.com