Artascience with Serendipity Upon a Gust doth/did Blow LO26590

Date: 04/28/01

Dear Community of Complex Learners,
titled: Artascience with Serendipity Upon a Gust doth/did Blow

This from yesterday, or the day before;-)

Ink on paper A.J.Campbell 1982
(in another place)

The Act of Creation, Koestler. The title of the chapter is, Standing on One's
Head - Underground Games

" -In his later life Pasteur performed the same kind of mental head-stand
on at least two more momentous occasions. One I have already mentioned the
discovery of immunization by vaccines, which grew out of a spoilt culture
of chicken cholera. The other was the 'domestication' of micro-organisms,
their transformation from enemies into allies of man, which led to
industrial microbiology and, eventually, to the antibiotics. - Microbes
destroying microbes. 'In the inferior organisms', he wrote, 'still more
than in the big animal and vegetable species, life hinders life.' It
sounds simple. But what a long way it was from the enunciation of the
principle to the discovery of penicillin. It took more than half a
century; and it was again due to an almost ludicrous series of
misadventures. They started in 1922, when Alexander Fleming caught a cold.
A drip from his nose fell into a dish in his laboratory at St Mary's
Hospital; the nasal slime killed off the bacilli in the culture; Fleming
isolated the active agent in the mucus, which was also present in tears,
and called it lysozyme. That was the first step; but lysozyme was not
powerful enough as a germ-killer, and another seven years had to pass
until a gust of wind blew through the lab window a spore of the mould
penicillium notatum, which happened to settle in a culture dish of
staphylococci. But Fleming had been waiting for that stroke of luck for
fifteen years; and when it came, he was ready for it. As Lenin has said
somewhere: 'If you think of Revolution, dream of Revolution, sleep with
Revolution for thirty years, you are bound to achieve a Revolution
one-day.' I shall have to return to Fleming in a different context. The
examples of 'discovery by misadventure', which I have just given, were
taken from biology; but the same kind of perverse or reverse-logic can
also be found operating in other branches of science and art."



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