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The Event of Discovery

The Event of Discovery

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Published by Open Research
Discovery in science may come about through many different routes. Most commonly, discovery consists in the unraveling of the physical laws of nature and of the fundamental mechanisms continuously at play in physical systems – galaxies, oceans, or cells. In other cases it involves the acquired awareness of a unique event in natural history, such as the discovery of the K-T impact, or of the path of migration of ancient hominids. And we also call discovery the invention of a novel technological approach, by which a new combination of known physical processes enables new and potentially useful functions.

The paths leading to discovery may also be vastly different depending on situations and disciplines. A discovery may be the result of a long and patient search focused on a well defined hypothesis, pursued by a large number of researchers, sometimes across generations. By contrast, other discoveries happen suddenly, as the fruit of chance, or even as the benign consequence of an accidental error. Moreover, it is not unusual that researchers aiming their inquiry at a given direction end up by discovering something completely different: from Christopher Columbus onward, plenty of episodes show how sailing in a predefined direction may lead in unknown territory – a place not necessarily less interesting than the one initially pursued.
Discovery in science may come about through many different routes. Most commonly, discovery consists in the unraveling of the physical laws of nature and of the fundamental mechanisms continuously at play in physical systems – galaxies, oceans, or cells. In other cases it involves the acquired awareness of a unique event in natural history, such as the discovery of the K-T impact, or of the path of migration of ancient hominids. And we also call discovery the invention of a novel technological approach, by which a new combination of known physical processes enables new and potentially useful functions.

The paths leading to discovery may also be vastly different depending on situations and disciplines. A discovery may be the result of a long and patient search focused on a well defined hypothesis, pursued by a large number of researchers, sometimes across generations. By contrast, other discoveries happen suddenly, as the fruit of chance, or even as the benign consequence of an accidental error. Moreover, it is not unusual that researchers aiming their inquiry at a given direction end up by discovering something completely different: from Christopher Columbus onward, plenty of episodes show how sailing in a predefined direction may lead in unknown territory – a place not necessarily less interesting than the one initially pursued.

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Published by: Open Research on Jun 26, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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06/26/2012

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