without any idea, an account of
The story of nitrocellulose is an account of what chemists have done without any idea of what they were going to do.
In 1845, Dr. Schoebein [sic], while puttering in his physiological laboratory in Berlin, was astounded one day, by the behaviour of cotton cellulose when mixed with nitric and sulfuric acids. He observed that this treated cotton burned with explosive violence without the formation of black smoke. This discovery was hailed with delight both by scientific and military experts who looked forward to its possible adoption for war purposes.
ex A.S. Greenber and Simon Broder (Jr. Ex[amine]rs.), “The Story of Nitrocellulose,” in Journal of the Patent Office Society 8:11 (July 1926) : 517-530 (518) : link
nitrocellulose, at wikipedia : link
Christian Friedrich Schönbein (1799-1868),
“best known for inventing the fuel cell (1838) at the same time as William Robert Grove and his discoveries of guncotton and ozone.”
wikipedia : link