Mas Subramanian wasn't expecting blue.
In 2009, as part of his lab at Oregon State University, Subramanian — a professor of materials science — was working with students to manufacture new materials that could be used in electronics. They would mix and grind chemicals, then heat them to over 2000 degrees Fahrenheit.
One grad student, Andrew E. Smith, took a particular mix out of the furnace to find it had turned a surprising, bright blue color.
"You know what Louis Pasteur said?" Subramanian asks. "Luck favors the alert mind."