Serendipity and Science
Category : 11th Class
(1) Serendipity is associated with scientific method and it refers to discoveries made unexpectedly or by chance.
(2) The term 'serendipity' was coined to Horace Walpole in 1754 from the title of the fairy-tale. 'The Three Princes of Serendip (a former name for Sri Lanka)', whose heroes were always making discoveries by accidents and sagacity.
(3) Louis Pasteur said that "chance favours the trained mind". because an inquisitive, enthusiastic and intuitive mind may perceive the desired direction for a discovery.
(4) In 1922 while Alexander Fleming, the British bacteriologist has a cold, allowed few drops of his nasal mucus to fall on a bacterial culture.
(5) Fleming was excited to find sometime later that the mucus could dissolve away the bacteria and the enzyme lysozyme which dissolves bacterial cells could be discovered.
(6) One of the best known antibiotics, penicillin, was discovered by Fleming in 1928 as a result of a happy accident.
(7) Fleming had been working on Staphylococcus and it happened that some spores of a mould floated into his laboratory through an open window and landed on one of his Staphylococcus colonies.
(8) To Fleming's surprise the bacteria were quickly destroyed.
(9) The mould was subsequently identified as Penicillium notatum; for this reason the active substance killing the bacteria was called penicillin.
(10) Edward Jenner, an English physician, could develop smallpox vaccine by observing that the dairymaids infected with milder cowpox are safer from infection of smallpox.
(11) In 1796, Jenner inoculated an 8-year old boy with fluid from cowpox blisters on the hand of a dairymaid, Sarah Nelms.
(12) To Jenner's surprise, the boy had become immune to smallpox and this technique of inducing immunity became known as vaccination (Latin 'vacca' means cow)
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