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Gone Sideways [electronic resource]: Serendipity in Science

Canadian Broadcasting Corporation
Video; Computer Resource; Online Video; Online
Chance plays an enormous role in many major scientific discoveries. In this program, host David Suzuki explores three serendipitous, or chance, findings in medical, technological, and paleontological research. Segment one focuses on Scottish bacteriologist Alexander Fleming, who stumbled upon penicillin when his poor housekeeping allowed mold to start growing on a petri dish of bacteria. Segment two spotlights amateur inventor George de Mestral, who took a walk, noticed burs adhering to his clothing, examined their structure under his microscope, and went on to create Velcro. And segment three tells the story of a railroad surveyor working in British Columbia who unintentionally found trilobite fossils in the rocks. Includes discussion of what makes serendipitous discoveries possible.
Release Date
Run Time
44 min.
11 & up
  • Encoded with permission for digital streaming by Films Media Group on Dec. 31, 2009.
  • Films on Demand is distributed by Films Media Group for Films for the Humanities & Sciences, Cambridge Educational, Meridian Education, and Shopware.
Variant Title
Serendipity in Science
  • Discovery of X-Rays (1:20)
  • Chance Discoveries: X-Rays and Penicillin (1:45)
  • Scientific Labs: "Limited Sloppiness" (1:06)
  • Fleming's Penicillin (1:04)
  • Chance Discovery: Phonograph (1:41)
  • What Is Serendipity? (1:20)
  • Serendipity in Action (1:06)
  • Discovery of Antifreeze Proteins (1:30)
  • Who Makes Serendipitous Discoveries? (1:01)
  • Louis Pasteur (1:54)
  • Birth of Viagra (1:09)
  • Breakthrough in Orthodontics (1:44)
  • Orthodontics and Nanotechnology (1:26)
  • Serendipity and Skepticism (1:18)
  • Discovery of Velcro (2:18)
  • Breakthroughs in Science and Technology (1:54)
  • Serendipitous Discoveries (1:12)
  • Invention of Microwave Oven (1:22)
  • Systematic Serendipity (1:12)
  • Chance Discovery (1:14)
  • Simulation of Chance Discovery (1:11)
  • Error and Serendipity (1:05)
  • Discovery of Prehistoric Fossils (1:50)
  • What Makes a Fossil? (1:46)
  • Inhabitants of the Cambrian Sea (1:38)
  • Fossils Discovery in Canadian Rockies (1:40)
  • Freedom to Discover (1:29)
  • Discovery of the Expanding Universe (1:36)
  • Chance and the Pursuit of Innovation (1:10)
New York, N.Y. : Films Media Group, [2009], c2008.
Publisher no.
40929 Films Media Group
Access Restriction
Access requires authentication through Films on Demand.
1 streaming video file (44 min.) : sd., col., digital file.
Mode of access: Internet.
System requirements: FOD playback platform.
Technical Details
  • Access in Virgo Classic
  • Staff View