For the inaugural series of articles on Smells Like Science I’ll cut right to the most exciting part of science: discovery. Scientific discoveries happen in all sorts of different ways. Some discoveries are small steps toward understanding something larger. Others are major breakthroughs in their own right that affect the lives of millions of people. Often they are the result of years of hard work – a long, grinding process of trial and error, testing new ideas and carefully considering results. Other times they are the result of less tangible things – like desperation, luck, timing, or a moment of brilliant insight that strikes like a synaptic lightning bolt.
In this four-part series we’ll take a look at three important discoveries and try to understand how and why they happened.