many of the great medical discoveries of the 20th
century were made serendipitously. A few of the many
examples Meyers explores will be familiar, but most
will be a surprise to the majority of readers.
Apparently, the reason that so many of these "happy
accidents" are unknown to us is because scientists
often cover up the serendipitous nature of their
discoveries because, within the scientific
community, there is a something of a stigma attached
to chance discovery, because it can be misconstrued
as being pure luck. Thus many published papers omit
the blind alleys, wrong ideas and creative leaps
that went into the eventual discovery, and instead
present the findings as a smooth, logical process
Beyond the Book
Did you know?
The word 'serendipity'
was coined by Horace Walpole in
the 1740s after reading the
fable The Three Princes of
(set in the land of
Serendip, now known as Sri
Lanka). Walpole also coined the
derives from the Italian mal
produced as an unwanted
byproduct of the German dye
industry for years before an
accidental discovery showed it
to be a very effective
antibiotic. The researcher who...