Great discoveries that happened by chance.
Serendipity and its heroes, from Christopher Columbus to Sherlock Holmes.
How many times have you searched for something and come across something entirely different? A partner, a friend, a job, an object. It happens to scientists all the time: they design an experiment and the results reveal something totally unexpected, that often turns out to be quite important. This fascinating phenomenon is known as serendipity, coined from the Persian fable of the three princes of Serendip, sent out by their father to explore the world.
In the history of science, this is how the greatest discoveries have been made. But here you won’t find the usual list of anecdotes about the discovery of penicillin, X-rays and microwave ovens. The most surprising serendipity stories reveal profound aspects of the logic of scientific discovery. These discoveries cannot be ascribed to fortune alone: serendipity springs from a mixture of astuteness and curiosity, of sagacity and accidents seized upon and transformed into knowledge in the blink of an eye. Above all, serendipity shows us things we didn’t know that we didn’t know.
Following the success of The Natural History of Imperfection and Finitude, Telmo Pievani reveals the thrilling story of an idea. From Zadig to Sherlock Holmes, the numerous heroes of serendipity show us that Nature, out there, is always much greater than we ever imagine.