Whilst careful logic applied to science is the hall mark of science, observation and chance also play a significant in new discoveries.
When Jenner listened to the milk maid talking about the protective abilities of cow pox against small pox a new era entered social medicine. Similarly Withering responded to an account of the therapeutic benefits of digitalis in heart failure , an infusion from the fox glove flower.
The clue is the listening and then testing.
Chance is Fleming who was studying the ability of tear drops to inhibit the growth of bacteria seeing by chance that a penicillin fungal infection killed bacteria growing on the same agar plate.
The time interval used for many dietary fibre studies is three weeks, the reason for this being that in the first experiment on bran three weeks was chosen because the experiment could then be finished between the Edinburgh Medical Faculty Ball and Christmas.
The subsequent promotion of the idea and observation must then be subjected to careful scientific studies and abandoned if the experiments don’t fit the inspired thought.
Such was the discovery of the tranquilliser drug largactil. This drug met theoretical requirements of an ideal drug. When tested in all organ tests it was without effect. So in exasperation one of the scientists who was quite agitated drank the potion and felt very calm. A new drug was found.
- Martin Eastwood