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Reyes Calderón Cuadrado,, Writer and Dean of the University of Navarra, School of Economics

Serendipity, serendipity and serendipity

Fri, 17 May 2013 09:28:00 +0000 Published in La Razón

A little more or less a year ago, in an extraordinary plenary session of the Executive Council , the Royal Academy discussed the possibility of including the term serendipity for scientific use in the Dictionary, with the same meaning that the British Academy gives to 'Serendipity': finding fortuitous or finding produced by accident. Umberto Eco gives as an example of the phenomenon the arrival of Columbus in America; there is someone else who 'tweets' more current political examples... Serendipities happen every day. Some articles have been published that confirm this empirically: I have studied one that states that, whatever control systems you have, 85% of the failures (including corruption and corruption) are discovered by pure chance. In the scientific world, they are especially frequent: remember Alexander Fleming's penicillin or Plunkett's polytetrafluoroethylene (Teflon). Hofmann accidentally discovered LSD, and the same happened with Pos-it, which was derived from a production failure of a batch of glue. However lucky I might be, I will never discover a way to store energy, simply because I'm not in it. The findings are causal, no doubt; they arise unexpectedly but are stumbled upon by someone who is looking for something more or less close. And that someone is so attentive to his surroundings that he immediately discovers the use of what has appeared without expecting it. In Spanish, we have more common colloquial terms to refer to serendipity such as chiripa or carambola. A few days ago, I read a article whose signatory assured that this Government would not find a path to growth even by serendipity, something very unhopeful that, to tell the truth, made me think. I firmly believe in the role of "perturbations", in what is called the "random factor", in serendipity and in serendipity: welcome to all of them, if they provide solutions. But I know that you have to be a scientist to make chance scientific discoveries. And what worries me is that this Government - I extend this to trade unions and civil service examination - is not doing what it must to meet the positive that it does not expect. I am not talking about the macro level, where Minister de Guindos is well placed: one day they will find a Germany that speaks more Spanish. I am thinking of the micro, in the world of SMEs, where I believe they are on the ring roads. Talking (better listening) to small and medium-sized entrepreneurs about the divine and human, and, above all, about the difficulties of making business in our country would put them on status to make those discoveries we are all waiting for. A fluke? Well, welcome.