A fascinating, entertaining, and highly accessible look at the surprising role serendipity played in some of the most important medical discoveries in the 20th century.
What do penicillin, chemotherapy drugs, X-rays, Valium, the Pap smear, and Viagra have in common? They were each discovered accidentally, stumbled upon in the search for something else. In the 1990s, Pfizer had high hopes for a new drug that would boost blood flow to the heart. As they conducted trials on angina sufferers, researchers noted a startling effect: while the drug did not affect blood flow to the heart, it did affect blood flow elsewhere! Now over 6 million American men have taken Viagra.
Winston Churchill once said, Men occasionally stumble across the truth, but most of them pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing has happened. Within the scientific community, a certain stigma is attached to chance discovery because it is wrongly seen as pure luck. Happy accidents happen every day, but it takes intelligence, insight, and creativity to recognize a Eureka, I found what I wasnt looking for! moment and know what to do next.
In discussing medical breakthroughs, Morton Meyers makes a cogent, highly engaging argument for a more creative, rather than purely linear, approach to science. It may just save our lives!
Happy Accidents is not only for the medical specialists among us - far from it. Morton Meyers's style is totally accessible to the layman and very readable, filled with anecdotes and enhanced by the occasional illustration; not only providing an enlightening read but leaving the reader with a wealth of bite-sized "did you know" facts to share on any occasion when the subject of health and medicine comes up, which tends to be an increasingly popular topic as we get inexorably closer to shuffling off our mortal coil! (Reviewed by BookBrowse Review Team).
The anecdotes are lively and filled with miniportraits of important doctors ...but some chapters feel forcefully wedged in.
Booklist - Donna Chavez
Meyers' accounts of such happy accidents as the discoveries of the lifesaving anticoagulant Coumadin, the manic-depression therapeutic lithium, and others is a significant brief on creativity's critical role in medical research.
Meyers teases out the flashes of insight that have transformed routine experiments into Nobel prize-winning medical advances...the first and last chapters should appear on many syllabi for first-year medical students.
A character-rich account of the role of chance in scientific research...Illuminating science writing for the layman.
Recent Reader Reviews
Rated of 5
by mike Happy Accidents This is a superb book that is well referenced. The style, though containing a great deal of "academic" material, is fluid and very readable. Dr. Meyers provides a great deal of insight from years as both a clinician and researcher that are... Read More
The word 'serendipity'
was coined by Horace Walpole in
the 1740s after reading the
fable The Three Princes of
Serendip (set in the land of
Serendip, now known as Sri
Lanka). Walpole also coined the
misnomer 'malaria' which
derives from the Italian mal
aria (bad air).
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
discovered it in 1936 used it to
successfully cure his six year
old daughter from a
life-threatening infection. The
only catch is that he turned her
skin a permanent lobster-red
color as he didn't know what...
The ultimate journey to discover how we went from there being nothing at all to there being something, and then how a little of that something turned into us, and also what happened in between and since.
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