Embracing Luck & Failure

Source: SingHealth, Feb 2016

Two things are essential for success in research: the freedom to do blue-skies research, and embracing both luck and failure, said Sir Richard Roberts, who was awarded the 1993 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine with Phillip Allen Sharp for the discovery of introns in eukaryotic DNA and the mechanism of gene-splicing.

He said that blue–skies research is valuable, because that’s where major breakthroughs come from. It allows scientists to ask fundamental questions about the nature of the world, without necessarily thinking of an immediate application of their findings.
“All the big advances in science don’t come from translational medicine from day one,” said Sir Roberts.
“Luck is incredibly important, but a lot of us feel guilty when it strikes. You have to make the most of it when a lucky break comes along,” said Sir Roberts.
He said, “I’ve learned to love failure. When you fail, you actually learn. If an experiment gives you results you didn’t expect, nature is telling you something.”
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