From: George Murphy (email@example.com)
Date: Sun Mar 23 2003 - 17:36:40 EST
Michael Roberts wrote:
> Care on discovery by "accident". Fleming discovered first lysosyme and then
> penicillin in the 1920s because he was researching into bacterial cultures
> etc. Thought ere was some "chance" in his discovery he was looking for
> something. However he didnt develop either finding . That was done by Florey
> in Oxford who got a young biochemist Eric Roberts- my father - to purify
> lysosyme and then found it was no use and then got Chain to look at
> My point is few if any scientific discoveries are accidental. Accidental
> discoveries only happen to scientists who are accident prone!!
> Sorry I have exploded Burgy's middle reason.
> Anyway I await IDs first discovery and bloodclots wont do!
Another example is Herschel's discovery of Uranus. He certainly wasn't looking
for it. But he was engaged in a systematic survey of the sky & if he hadn't found it
one night, he would have on the next. It was, he said later, it's turn to be
& of course others before Herschel had seen Uranus but hadn't realized that it
was anything more than another star. One has to follow up accidental discoveries for
them to have any value. A number of physicists between ~1925 & 1956 (including one of
my former profs at Johns Hopkins) got peculiar results with electrons that could have
tipped them off to the fact that parity wasn't conserved in weak interactions, but
nobody pursued the idea until Lee & Yang suggested it theoretically.
George L. Murphy
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