GRE Issue Essay 45
Most important discoveries or creations are accidental: it is usually while seeking the answer to one question that we come across the answer to another.
Although there are many incidents in history where discoveries occurred by accident or it happened while searching answers to some other problems, however, there are many other discoveries, which were sought out purposely. Hence, we cannot generalize that most discoveries are accidental.
The author has given this statement based on some examples from the history, but this statement is overstated. In this statement, the author has given more importance to serendipity, which is not correct.
However, you cannot ignore many accidental discoveries in the world. There are many examples in history to support the author. For instance, Columbus discovered a new continent, America, while he was on his route to find West Indies for trade. Similarly, the discovery of very important drug, Penicillin that is one of the earliest antibiotic, by Fleming was also accidental. There are many other anthropological examples in the history where geologists stumbled upon important artifacts in quest to understand earth’s structure. These discoveries tell them about the previous civilizations in those places.
However, these were the cases when technology was not very advanced. Hence, there were not many inventions, creations, and discoveries on purpose in those times. Nevertheless, that is not the case now. These days astronomers use more powerful telescopes to discover new planets and to know more about space. Because of these discoveries and new technology, we know so much about our atmosphere and planet. It also helps us to know about the earth’s weather in advance.
There are many planned researches by biologists to discover new medicines and new therapies for various diseases. Most of the times, scientific discoveries are planned. Scientists research lot for the existing facts and data before applying the information to create a new thing. Most of these discoveries are made through a scientific approach. Drug companies have the pressure of their customers and shareholders to avoid random pursuits. At the time of its discovery, even importance and use of penicillin was not known. It was in 1939 that a group of scientists did intensive research and were able to demonstrate penicillin’s ability to kill infectious bacteria. Hence, this discovery was also used after planned research.
Similarly, creations are also not baseless and instant. They are more engineered and based on the existing knowledge. Semiconductors, internal combustion engines cannot be treated as accidental discoveries. These are based upon the existing scientific principles. However, there might be some discoveries whose later effects are not foreseen. For example, ARPANET was started on a small scale as a data communication system, which was used to share data among engineers at different universities. However, later on it got famous as Internet.
In these modern days, many companies are working in the business of creating or discovering new things to make our lives comfortable. They hire many engineers and scholars to work on these projects. Hence, not all the discoveries can be known as accidental. We must not give more credit to accidental discoveries than the actual work done by scholars and researchers.