The Role of Chance in Science – 2130520

The Role of Chance in Science – 2130520

The scientific world is full of controlled experiments and we fail to acknowledge that chance is a contributing factor to many discoveries. Scientific methods are known for their orderliness and control and as a matter of fact we are often taught that without such precision then experimental research might end up yielding invalid results. This implies that chance should play very little or no role in any scientific process. However we should ask ourselves what chance truly is and when it is considered as being an accident and when it is foreseen. An important point to note is the fact that in the past there have been some chance discoveries which led to amazing new ideas which gave direction to further scientific investigations of the natural phenomena.

In order to prove the role of chance in scientific discoveries we have to ask ourselves various questions. First of all we have to show whether any scientific discovery made happened by chance or if it was predictable. Secondly we have to prove if any scientific observation made was as a result of happenstance or if it was an event that was not expected amidst a controlled scientific research that is being carried out deliberately. However we have to note that if the role of science is to look a what is around us in a way that can uncover new and unexpected things. We also have to note that even a scientific research that is carried out deliberately can eventually lead to an unexpected chance discovery or observation. Therefore this means that no matter how much a researcher is strict with a scientific method something unexpected can happen and they might end up with a totally new and different discovery from what they were hoping to find in the first place.

For any discovery made a researcher has to be able to fit their new discovery into a pre-existing pattern of ides they have in their mind. Any new observation requires proper context where it can fit for it to be meaningful. This means that the mind of a researcher is ready to receive the new idea. With this in mind then we can say that for a prepared mind chance acts as a springboard to new ideas but for a mind that is not prepared it might be something fascinating. In the field of observation chance is in favor of a mind that is prepared.

There are various important historical discoveries that occurred as a result of chance. One such important discovery is that of penicillin which involved a series of chance events that span over a half a century and was based on the building of knowledge gained in the early 1500BCE. During this time the use of molds and fermented materials as therapeutic agents was a common thing. It was only until the late nineteenth century when progress was made whereby there was a concerned effort of identifying and isolating substances which would inhibit or destroy the agents that cause human diseases and in this chance played a role. A common problem among microbiologists and bacteriologists is contamination of pure cultures by invasion of other microorganisms. However, it is this problem of contamination that is seen a thing that leads these chance observations which eventually led to the discovery of penicillin. The discovery of penicillin is just but one example of how chance can led to a scientific discovery (Slowiczek,  & Peters, 2010).

Even though most scientists claim that the theories of science are based on methodical research we have to note that key discoveries are made as a result of chance. Therefore we can conclude that chance plays an equally important role in scientific discoveries.


Slowiczek, F & Peters, P. (2010). Discovery, chance and scientific method. Retrieved September 6, 2014 from,d.d2s