When most of us hear "scientific research", it conjures the image of serious men and women in meticulous labs using carefully prescribed methods to achieve rather predictable outcomes. We have an expectation that science is calculated and controlled. Yet some of the most influential scientific discoveries have been made entirely by accident. Does chance work alone or are other phenomenon at play?
Combining dramatic re-creation with cheeky animation and cleverly manipulated archival images, Gone Sideways illustrates three areas of exploration: medicine, technology and natural science.
Was Alexander Fleming's well-known sloppiness, creativity and absent-mindedness integral to his discovery of penicillin? When Canadian researcher Laurie Graham went out for an afternoon of cross-country skiing one fateful day, could she have imagined that it would eventually lead to the discovery of a protein that is changing transplant medicine? And what of the blood flow medication first prescribed to heart patients, now known by the name Viagra?
Dr. Percy Spencer was working on a radar device when he accidentally melted his afternoon snack and discovered the first new way to heat food since our ancestors figured out how to cook using fire.
In 1886 a railway worker in Field, British Columbia made a discovery that led to the exploration of the most diverse collection of fossils on the planet. The initial preservation of the Burgess Shale, a half billion years ago, was also the result of an accident. And astronomers trying to find out why white noise was interrupting their radio telescope signal were the first to discover evidence of the Big Bang.
Gone Sideways examines serendipity in science, from life-saving cancer cures to the x-ray machine and the discovery of North America. Host David Suzuki takes us on a thought-provoking journey that demystifies the scientific process and poses philosophical questions about creativity and science.