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Celebrating the spark that leads to discovery
See what happens when we ask “what if?”

What is wonder?

It’s that spark of curiosity. The desire to learn. To know.

Wonder dares to dream. To innovate. It’s the curiosity that leads to problem-solving. The first ingredient to a meaningful outcome. This is the same wonder that fills every 3M employee as we work to apply science to improve lives.

We know that wonder can be big, to be sure. Its impact huge – game changing innovations improving humankind. But we also appreciate and celebrate wonder in its smallest form. Sometimes it’s as simple as a question like “what if?” – a question which ultimately leads to the day-to-day solutions that have meaningful impacts on people’s lives.

Here are just a few.

  • exploration made possible

    Forty years of discovery. Zero stops to refuel.

    This year marks the 40th anniversary of the launch of the world’s most-traveled and longest-lived spacecraft, NASA’s Voyager 1 and 2. Each probe has traveled more than 10 billion miles since without a stop for refueling. How is that possible? NASA turned to 3M 40 years ago with that very challenge: build a battery to help explore the outer reaches of space.

    Enter Bob Elm, a 3M engineer and self-described “tinkerer.” At the time Bob was working with 3M lead telluride elements and wondered if that would solve the problem. And the atomic battery was born, known as SNAP III (Systems for Nuclear Auxiliary Power). This earned Bob a trip to meet President Eisenhower and helped make possible the exploration our solar system and beyond.

    Since then, the technology has been used in 23 space systems, including the Apollo Lunar Surface Experiments Packages; Pioneers 10 and 11; Viking Landers 1 and 2; Voyagers 1 and 2; Galileo; Ulysses; and Cassini. That’s quite a resume. What will it help discover next?

  • uniform microscopic shapes

    What does your smart phone owe the overhead projector?

    Have you ever wondered what cell phones, vaccinations, and road signs have in common? The overhead projector. Yes, that’s right, that machine that put you to sleep during algebra. 

    Well, technically it’s the lens inside of the projector. It’s called the Fresnel lens and was invented by 3M using a technology we call “microreplication.” It’s a clever way to replicate thousands of microscopic shapes onto every square inch of a surface in unending uniformity. This very technology has helped advance cell phone displays, the reflectivity of road signs, and even improved how vaccinations are administered. Cool, right? We agree. And at 3M, continue to wonder what we might use it for next.

  • microscopic adhesive

    Sticking together: Five “wonder”ful ways science secures your world

    You might know us as the Scotch® Tape people. Ok, we admit it: we’re nerds about “tape,” but that’s because we’ve seen and experienced what amazing things it can do— helping to make life safer, more beautiful and even more fun. Adhesives don’t just have the strength to bind two objects together, but the power to help people imagine and create – to let their curiosity become reality. And we think that’s cool. Here are five unique ways “sticky” solves problems:


    1. Eliminating the need for screws inside your smart phone, making it stronger, lighter and more durable. 
    2. Holding many different parts of airplanes, automobiles and even trains together
    3. Securing medical dressings that are gentle enough for human skin while sealing out water, dirt and germs.
    4. Adhering dental restoratives to the natural tooth structure to keep those smiles bright
    5. Bonding 145-pound panels to the spectacular Walt Disney Concert Hall, in place of welds, screws or rivets 


Celebrating curiosity and purpose at 2017 Fast Company Innovation Festival

  • Celebrate the spark in each of us

    Wonder, purpose and the optimism that leads to innovation

    See how 3M joined leaders from around the world who share a passion for innovation and creativity to engage in a conversation about wonder and the power it has to make societal impact when applied with a sense of purpose. 

    Meet our champions of wonder:

    • Craig Brown, Ph.D., Big Data, Data Science and Business Intelligence Architect, Author: Untapped Potential - The Supreme Partnership of Self
    • Dr. Anael Alston, Superintendent of Schools - Hamilton Central School District, Former NYS Principal of the Year; Co-Author: You're Hired: The Inside Secrets of Getting Your School Leadership Job
    • Caleph B. Wilson, Field Application Scientist, Miltenyi Biotec
    • Jeremy Goldman, Founder, Firebrand Group, Author, and Keynote Speaker
    • James Jorasch, Founder, Science House & Memory Layer
    • Rita King, Co-Director, Science House
    • Tim Melino, Meteorological Application Developer, UL

Supporting wonder and its impact now and into the future

We celebrate and support the wonder in the next generation of scientists, in other companies, and in partners who inspire others to make an impact.

More wonder from around 3M

You see, we’ve been wondering how? what? and can we? for over 100 years. The results can be found in safer food. Safer roads. In cleaner cities. Cleaner hospitals. Cleaner air, power and in much more. And we look forward to seeing what it leads to next.

  • curious, passionate problem solvers applying science to life

    Always asking “what if”

    At 3M, you’ll find 91,000 curious people filled with wonder, working to apply science to life, advancing every company, enhancing every home and improving every life. 

  • childlike curiosity

    A child-like approach

    We’re born with an amazing capacity to wonder. We poke things, bend things, take them apart, and imagine them a million different ways. “No” doesn’t exist when you’re curious like a child. Just possibilities.

  • 3M in your everyday life

    3M in your everyday

    Our wonder doesn’t stop at Post-it® Notes. It touches nearly every part of your life. The results can be found in safer food. Safer Roads. In cleaner cities. Cleaner hospitals. Cleaner air, power and so much more.

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