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Happy Accidents: Serendipity in Modern Medical Breakthroughs
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Happy Accidents: Serendipity in Modern Medical Breakthroughs

3.85  ·  Rating Details ·  157 Ratings  ·  16 Reviews
This is Morton Meyers' fascinating, entertaining, and highly accessible look at the surprising role serendipity played in some of the most important medical discoveries in the 20th century. Though within the scientific community a certain stigma is attached to chance discovery because it is wrongly seen as pure luck, happy accidents happen every day and Meyers shows how it ...more
Hardcover, 408 pages
Published March 9th 2007 by Arcade Publishing
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Sep 03, 2014 Eva rated it really liked it
Kindle quotes:

Vladimir Nabokov bridged the tension between the rational and the intuitive in his observation that “there is no science without fancy and no art without fact.” - location 389

One day, when Rothstein walked into his lab, he noticed a box of detergent that was used in the lab to clean glassware. On the box, surrounded by a flashy red star, were the words “New Improved Dreft.” Comparing its label to that of an old box of Dreft, Rothstein saw that the new version contained an added ing
Allyson Dyar
Aug 21, 2012 Allyson Dyar rated it really liked it
Shelves: science
Happy Accidents: Serendipity in Modern Medical Breakthroughs – When Scientists Find What They’re NOT Looking For by Morton A. Meyers, M.D. is exactly what the title touts: many medical breakthroughs are a matter of being at the right place at the right time or as Louis Pasteur is quoted to have said, “In the field of observation, chance favors the prepared mind.”

The book is chock full of stories of accidental discovery where scientists were looking for one thing and found another or were just po
Mar 06, 2009 Bonnie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science, own
Amazingly well researched, a general introduction into the history of medical research from its earliest beginnings to modern day. He traces how each discovery came about and adds interesting background information that you might otherwise have never known, that make each case an entertaining tale rather than a dry textbook pronouncement you usually find in a medical text.

In the final section of the book, Meyers points to several factors which he believes create an environment unsuitable for fo
Shawn Dvorak
Sep 05, 2015 Shawn Dvorak rated it really liked it
Many of today's best-known drugs were actually discovered accidentally or were originally targeted for a completely different disease. And a surprising number of medical procedures came about through unrelated research, often found by scientists in other fields. This book is full of surprising examples of serendipity, the accidental discovery of something unexpected. However, it's much more than just a compendium of such examples; Meyers makes some very good points about today's "medical-industr ...more
Sep 16, 2014 Karen rated it liked it
Shelves: b-good
This was informative and entertaining. The stories go by very quickly, and are easy to read. The conclusions get a little preachy, and over-simplify the complexities of modern medical research, but there are at least a couple of sentences that back off from the 'serendipity is the only hope' viewpoint. It tends to ignore the fact that while it is disparaging combinatorial and methodical chemistry approaches, several of the stories praise the researchers for synthesizing hundreds of compounds, of ...more
Alex Zakharov
May 29, 2015 Alex Zakharov rated it did not like it
Got this because Taleb mentioned it in one of his posts and it sounded interesting. The main message is that many medical breakthroughs owe their existence to serendipity and bottom-up tinkering. Fine, I buy that, but the actual meat of the book - various stories of scientists and professionals making their (accidental) discoveries is incredibly dry and shockingly lackluster. I don't expect a non-fiction book to be an epitome of good compelling writing, but c'mon - give your words and sentences ...more
Feb 05, 2013 Ice rated it really liked it
Shelves: educational
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Sep 25, 2007 Jen rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
This was more a long book of information than I-can't-put-it-down-read. At times, it's interesting. At times, it's sort of boring, but it's an eye opening look at how accidents in the medical field can change the course of modern medicine. For example, penicillin was found by accident. The author also shows how the stict environment of medical research, and how big pharma, are leading to less medical breakthroughs and preventing researchers to follow up on those 'flukes' to find cures.
Devin Partlow
Nov 25, 2013 Devin Partlow rated it really liked it
A book about how serendipity has led to innovation... in medicine. Being the tech entrepreneur I am I see soooo many parallels in how serendipity has led to innovation in technology as well.

3.5 stars because even though the average reader may be overwhelmed by all the technical jargon, the book also included insights into producing serendipity which can be used across many disciplines.
Gabriel Law
Oct 29, 2016 Gabriel Law rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
More than luck

Far more than just a compilation of serendipitous science discovery, the stories herein can act as a reflection to how come we seem to be stuck at a lack of medical progress. The answer goes much deeper than pure luck.
Sep 17, 2015 Kimberly rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: gave-up
I have a hard time finishing many nonfiction books. This reads like a series of articles, some chapters more interesting than others. But I didn't make it to the end- There doesn't seem to be a point.
Karthik Mahadevan
Dec 13, 2013 Karthik Mahadevan rated it liked it
Decent read- Some new information. The challenge would be to create an error- proof medical practice that can still allow for serendipitous discovery
Attwa rated it really liked it
Jul 05, 2012
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“Chance favors the prepared mind.” 1 likes
“Discovery requires serendipity. But serendipity is not a chance event alone. It is a process in which a chance event is seized upon by a creative person who chooses to pay attention to the event, unravel its mystery, and find a proper application for it.” 0 likes
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