Interview. “We can’t plan the search”

This article comes from the journal Science et Avenir – Les Indispensables n° 206, dated July/September 2021.

Sylvie Caitlin is a Lecturer in Information and Communication Sciences at the University of Versailles Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines. he answered the questions of science and the future.

Science et Avenir: Alexander Fleming is said to have discovered penicillin by chance…

Sylvie Caitlin: In an article published in the New York Times on July 4, 1949, Fleming states that “Great discoveries were most often made independently by researchers to follow clues that opportunity or fate had provided them in laboratories.But for Fleming, the emphasis on chance works above all to protect the space of freedom of scientists, because we cannot plan fundamental research as much as we can program art or literature. In fact, chance is not enough, it is only the beginning point. “Opportunity belongs only to prepared mindsPasteur said. Without receptivity, without Fleming’s interest in natural antibacterial substances, there would be no serendipity*, no discovery.

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