It is amazing how many scientific discoveries were accidental. The history of science is packed with accidental discoveries (Peters, 1999, para. 4). Science is the “knowledge about or study of the natural world based on facts learned through experiments and observation” (Merriam-Webster, Incorporated, 2014). Accidental is defined as “happening in a way that is not planned or intended” (Merriam-Webster, Incorporated, 2014). Discovery is “the act of finding or learning something for the first time” (Merriam-Webster, Incorporated, 2014). In 1754, Horace Walpole, an English author, coined the term serendipity to mean “[t]he faculty of making fortunate discoveries by accident” (Farlex, Inc., 2014). Since then the term serendipity has been used many times to describe accidental discoveries. Accidental discoveries in science play a role in adding to the learning process from one discovery to the next discovery like building blocks. In many cases they led to awesome advances in medicine. Accidental discoveries have led to the advancement of scientific knowledge worldwide.
Here are eight accidental discoveries that played significant roles in the history of science. A British surgeon and scientist named Edward Jenner, had heard that a person who contracted cowpox did not get the smallpox disease. In 1796, he experimented with applying samples from cowpox sores to a boy who had not had smallpox (Krock, 2001, para. 7). The child was sick for a few days and was well again shortly (Krock, 2001). A couple months later Jenner inoculated the boy with the smallpox virus (Krock, 2001). The boy did not contract smallpox which led to the development of the first vaccine and the science of immunity (Krock, 2001). Although the medical and scientific ...
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