The unusual progress made in the fields of physics and chemistry has led in many cases to the opinion that such progress has come about essentially through a combination of luck and coincidence. This opinion is checked in consideration of numerous chance observations, primarily in the field of or- ganic chemistry. A description is given, for example, of the story behind the development of the first dyes, of phthalocyanine and of penicillin. Such examination demonstrates that in the exact sciences, in contrast to the arts, there is no such thing as the pure coincidence, or in other words, the one-time occurrence of an unforeseen happening which probably would never manifest itself a second time in finite courses of time. In practice coincidence in sciences is only accorded the role of a time factor, i. e. had Dobereiner, Daguerre, Becquerel, Rontgen or Otto Hahn, for example, never lived, the world of today would nevertheless be quite familiar with catalysis, photo- graphy, radioactivity, X-rays and the splitting of the atom. These discov- eries would have ultimately been made by others, perhaps under quite dif- ferent aspects and not coincidentally.
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