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Exaptation & managed serendipity: II

By Dave Snowden  ·  April 2, 2012  ·  Science, Innovation, Reflections

In this second of three posts on exaptation I am going to continue to build on reporting discussions and ideas that came out of the Durham conference.  In the final post I'll pick up on what I presented (and what I wish I had thought of presenting at the time) on managed serendipity.

Probably the most difficult thing for people to grasp about exaptation is that it means that many things did not evolve for a purpose; survival of the fortuitous not survival of the fittest (which goes a long way to understanding the British Class...


Exaptation & managed serendipity: I

By Dave Snowden  ·  April 1, 2012  ·  Science, Interdisciplinary, Innovation, Reflections

The feather original evolved for regulation of temperature, but then evolved for flight.  In 1942 a scientist at Raytheon was testing a magnetron, a key component of radar, and noticed that a candy bar melted in his pocket.  The next day he experimented with a egg which burst and spattered hot yolk over his face; thus was the microwave oven was born.  Scientists at Pfizer's Sandwich research establishment (I was within 24 hours of working there during my IBM days but that is a story for another day) were able to synthesise the...