Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Cybernetic Serendipity.

I went to this exhibition at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in 1968.
Featuring Bruce Lacey’s ROSA BOSOM with MATE
I remember being pinned against a wall by Bruce Lacey’s ROSA BOSOM with MATE, as I was so short, the robot didn't detect my presence. Happy days! See also

The above reminiscence is a ploy to talk about serendipity, or happy accident. See Role of chance in scientific discoveries, and List of discoveries influenced by chance circumstances. Aspartame & saccharin get a mention for being discovered by the accidental tasting of chemicals. But there's more!

According to Sucralose: "Sucralose was discovered in 1976 by scientists from Tate & Lyle, working with researchers Leslie Hough and Shashikant Phadnis at Queen Elizabeth College (now part of King's College London). While researching ways to use sucrose and its synthetic derivatives, Phadnis was told to test a chlorinated sugar compound. Phadnis thought Hough asked him to 'taste' it, so he did. He found the compound to be exceptionally sweet."

Sodium Cyclamate was also discovered by accident. "Cyclamate was discovered in 1937 at the University of Illinois by graduate student Michael Sveda. Sveda was working in the lab on the synthesis of anti-fever medication. He put his cigarette down on the lab bench, and, when he put it back in his mouth, he discovered the sweet taste of cyclamate." Smoking in the lab? Naughty, naughty!

Acesulfame potassium was...yeah you guessed! "After accidentally dipping his fingers into the chemicals that he was working with, Clauss licked them to pick up a piece of paper."

So, be careful out there...but not too careful!

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