Originally Posted by AbidingDude
Nearly every great discovery in history, Scientific or otherwise has almost always been discovered by Accident
Its a part of our learning process
If you count primitive ancestors, "accidentally" figuring out how to produce better tools by manipulating rocks instead of just picking them up, or making fire out of creating extreme friction between certain items etc, sure, the % of chance vs. educated guess is leaning towards change.
Primitive humans still knew that a stone or a stick can hit harder than a fist tho, or that sharp fragments of stone cut better than teeth.
They did know what fire was, and that it is useful, before they would realize that it can be produced in ways other than by thunder or whichever cause wildfires might have: i.e. saw the smoke or sparks, linked it to fire, knew dry wood fibers and/or grass would help it propagate etc etc. There was method to the "madness".
In this case, we are talking people in a research lab, researching electric conductivity through crystal forms, they've discovered something that did not cross their mind "by accident"...
Well, they were "there" , actively looking for it. They did not know how, but the why/what was pretty much "locked" on.
True accident, would be my figuring it out while my intent was baking a pie in my house oven, where messing up the ingredients and producing a superconductive substance cause I left the pie under the sun's rays infront of my window, and then getting electrocuted and whatnot for whichever goofy random reason that would lead me to investigate into material properties of that weird "pie" and learn something out of "virtually nowhere".
Them being molecular or w/e scientists looking for superconductive crystals, but instead making a superlight aero-jel that is a great thermal insulator - i.e. something not that relevant in one way, but so relevant to their starting point in so many other ways - is still not exactly an accident. Yes, "chance" plays a big role.
But I think there is a distict line between something that involves chance, and something that is purely or even mainly accidental.