Quirks and Quarks

How you can use the science of luck to change your fortunes

Luck happens as a result of probability, statistics and random chance — with a little persistence and hard work thrown in to the mix.

What is luck?

We tend to think of luck as only random chance, but there are other factors that can play a part according to Janice Kaplan, the author of the new book How Luck Happens: Using The Science of Luck to Transform Work, Love and Life.

She thinks luck is putting talent and hard work together when that random chance comes along.  Adding persistence, passion and optimism to the mix means you may even be able to make your own luck.   

How luck happens

Kaplan suggests that some aspects of luck have elements we can control.  Among them are recognizing opportunities, seeing possibilities, doing things a little bit different from others, and taking risks. 

You can also put yourself in the right circles or social networks to increase your chance of being lucky when it comes to a career path for example.  Whether it comes in one big moment, or smaller increments, the key to making luck happen is applying your talent and hard work when the time is right.     

Luck and science

There are many examples of great scientific discoveries made completely by chance, according to Kaplan. For example, in 1928, physician and microbiologist Alexander Fleming left petri dishes with staphylococcus bacteria on the window sill of his lab when he went on holiday. 

On his return a month later, the bacteria had been destroyed by the mould that had grown in his absence. As luck would have it, Fleming had inadvertently discovered the world's first antibiotic, penicillin.