Scientists Need Luck, Too

Experiment All You Want, But Serendipity Goes a Long Way Toward Making a Great Discovery

What role does luck play in science? Are most scientific discoveries serendipitous—fortuitous happenstance—or the result of persistence and the need to understand why? Let me tell you the story of Mana Toma and Gabriel Loget, two postdoctoral scientists in my chemistry lab at UC Irvine who helped create a coating that can reduce annoying glare from solar panels and dampen the glint from military weapons that can reveal troop positions.

One of the major research goals of my lab is to find new ways to create arrays or patterns of metal …

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