Fridjof Nansen’s ship Fram trapped in Arctic ice while on Polar expedition Source: Print by Fridjof Nansen, by permission from owner George Michelsen Foy The history of scientific discovery affords a gripping view of the back and forth between what we expect to fish out of the unknown, and what is revealed by accident. Contrast, for example, the laborious, directed research that every year results in vaccines tweaked for the latest influenza strain (including Pfizer’s and Moderna’s Covid-19 jabs), along with the billions unsuccessfully spent trying to create a vaccine for AIDS —versus the many crucial discoveries that have occurred by chance; through a more open, haphazard version of human curiosity. Cases in point: Alexander Fleming’s realization that a set of dirty petri dishes, which his lab assistants neglected to put away or clean over a couple of weeks’ vacation, had grown a bacteria-killing mold that eventually was called penicillin; the microwave oven, stumbled upon when an engineer working on radar found that the candy bar in his pocket melted when he got too close to a transmitter; UK92480, a drug Pfizer chemists were hoping could treat heart disease, which didn’t work in that department but had spectacular results in… Read full this story
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