Friday, 12 June 2009


“Serendipity is the effect by which one accidentally discovers something fortunate, especially while looking for something else entirely.” (Wikipedia)

Do you know the origin of Serenpidity?

« In an ancient Persian fairytale, the King of the Island of Serendip (known now as Sri Lanka) sent out by his three sons to find happiness in the form of wealth and power. As the princes traveled around, they constantly made happy discoveries in unexpected places by chance or cleverness.
Although the princes were not directly in quest of them, these discoveries brought the princes great happiness in their lives.
From this tale, Horace Walpole (1754) coined the word serendipity: the happening upon or making fortunate discoveries when not in search of them. Serendipity is a word we now use frequently to denote the unexpected discovery.
According to the definition, you do not reach a destination by plotting a course there. You set out on a journey elsewhere, but the course of events leads you to a better, more fulfilling destination. »

Serenpidity describes how most discoveries happened : randomly. However, randomness is never total randomness. Every things you do, you do them for a reason, and the most common reason of doing things is « pleasure ». For what other reasons would you do things than because you enjoy doing them?

About this, the scientific writer Isaac Asimov was absolutely right when he said : « The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not 'Eureka!', but 'That's funny' »

And that’s not only true in Sciences. The serependity theory works to describe any innovation process. Here are some examples of inventions that are just the result of people who wanted to have fun :

Invention of the Frisbie

Hungry college students were used to eat pies after class. Playing with the empty pie tins, they realized soon that they could be tossed and caught, providing them with endless hours of sport. The game became popular fast, with students flinging plates out in campuses.
The name of the pies shop was called The Frisbie Pie Company (1871–195 - Bridgeport, Connecticut)

The discovery of ether

In the early 1800's, laughing gas parties were-quiet fashionable. Crawford Long was playing cards with friends when he observed that while under the influence-of inhaled ether, a person could receive falls or blows and have no pain from these accidents or remember their happening. He became convinced that a person would become insensible to pain if sufficiently etherized, so he experimented his theory on a surgical procedure the 30th of March 1842. The surgery was a success.

The search of fun leads people to experiment things, and exprimentation leads to innovation. Sometimes the result is not what you expect, but whatever? Think about Columbus who found America when he was looking for a new way to reach India.

Fun = Experimentation = Innovation = Progress

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