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What is the role of accidental discovery, inductive leap, and cross-pollenization of ideas between disciplines in Science?

What is the role of accidental discovery, inductive leap, and cross-pollenization of ideas between disciplines in Science?

There is a general belief that the path to great discovery and scientific break-through follows the course of greatest academic achievement, most disciplined and methodical research, and greatest awareness of a very focused area of study. As Pasteur might agree, while this course prepares your mind to be able to understand and envision the effects of a new idea, it does not necessarily provide the creative spark that leads to the generation of a new idea or discovery.

Serendipitious discoveries have yieided many leaps in science. Serendipity means a "happy accident" or "pleasant surprise"; a fortunate mistake. Specifically, the accident of finding something good or useful while not specifically searching for it.(wiki).

I hope to accomplish two things with this question. First, identify to young inventors, scientists, and designers that history has proven that great discoveries often come through a serendipitous circumstance. “What if..” questions involving merging and combining aspects of other disciplines, branches of science, or observations in nature might lead to the type of lateral thinking that could yield discoveries. Second, to ask the more experienced folks out there can point to instances where they have made such an inductive leap that might serve to exemplify how something in one area was used to solve a problem or cause a discovery in another.

Perhaps a technique for generating new ideas is itself an idea worth spreading.

I included a few wiki links for those that are interested.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_discoveries_influenced_by_chance_circumstances

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Role_of_chance_in_scientific_discoveries

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lateral_thinking

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  • Jul 1 2013: Crossing disciplines is the essential of creative thought. Even without academic labels creative thought is the application to any discipline of the unique discipline of the individual mind(s)

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