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Science Technology

The Key To Astronomy Has Often Been Serendipity 51

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the louis-pasteur-had-it-right dept.
Ars Technica has a great look at just how often serendipity plays a part in major astronomy advances. From Galileo to the accidental discovery of cosmic microwaves, it seems that it is still better to be lucky than good. "But what's stunning is a catalog of just how common this sort of event has been. Herschell was looking for faint stars when he happened across the planet Uranus, while Piazi was simply creating a star catalog when he observed the object that turned out to be the first asteroid to ever be described, Ceres I."
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The Key To Astronomy Has Often Been Serendipity

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  • by Espen (96293) on Friday January 01, 2010 @01:38PM (#30614954)

    Prof. Andy Fabian's (of the Institute of Astronomy at the University of Cambridge and president of the Royal Astronomical Society) entertaining lecture on this very topic, entitled Serendipity's Guide to the Galaxy is available on-line in a range of formats. [cam.ac.uk]. Enjoy!

  • Re:The Sky is Big (Score:3, Informative)

    by Bigjeff5 (1143585) on Friday January 01, 2010 @02:59PM (#30615380)

    Its not the same as staring at the sludge in the bottom of a test tube.

    Are you kidding? Do you not realize how many scientific discoveries occur because scientists were looking at one thing and found something totally unexpected? It kind of defines "discovery".

    Not all things are predicted, in fact most things aren't.

    Look at vulcanized rubber for example, it was a complete accident. Goodyear had the basics in place, but it wasn't until he accidentally dropped some of it on the iron stove he was using to boil it in sulphur, and bingo! It was perfect. Without that invention we would not have rubber today, as natural rubber only maintains its elasticity under a small range of temperatures. The whole world had given up except for Goodyear (and I'm sure a couple others like him), but it was a pure accident that completed the discovery. And even then nobody believed him. Heh, such is science and discovery.

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