16 February 2006

Planning for the unexpected

Serendipity: I've always found it a delightful word. It sounds like a song, or the flight pattern of a small bird, or the name of a young heroine in an old novel. It evokes by its sound words such as serenity, quiddity, Ceres, and derives from an old Arabic name for the island of Sri Lanka. And, of course, the thing that the word describes is one of the most rewarding moments in life or science: the unexpected and unlooked for discovery of something new and wonderful. In the historical mythology of science and technology we celebrate the serendipitous: penicillin in a spoilt culture, for example. Being a scientist doesn't exclude appreciation of whimsey; quite the opposite, in fact.

[...continued at Scientific Computing World]

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