Accidental Scientific Discoveries

Monty Python's Flying Circus Disc 12Penguins. Yes, penguins. What relevance do penguins have to the furtherance of medical science? Well, strangely enough, quite a lot — a major breakthrough maybe. It was from such an unlikely beginning as an unwanted fungus accidentally growing on a sterile plate that Sir Alexander Fleming gave the world penicillin. James Watt watched an ordinary household kettle boiling and conceived the potentiality of steam power. Would Albert Einstein ever have hit upon the theory of relativity if he hadn’t been clever? All of these tremendous leaps forward have been taken in the dark. Would Rutherford ever have split the atom if he hadn’t tried? Could Marconi have invented the radio if he hadn’t, by pure chance, spent years working at the problem? Are these amazing breakthroughs ever achieved except by years and years of unremitting study? Of course not. What I said earlier about accidental discoveries must have been wrong. Nevertheless, scientists believe that these penguins — these comic, flightless, web-footed little bastards — may finally, unwittingly help man to fathom the uncharted depths of the human mind.

Monty Python’s Flying Circus
“A Book at Bedtime”

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