The joy of serendipity

Have you heard the story of the Three Princes of Serendip? Serendip is Persian name for Sri Lanka and the story is alledgedly based on the life of the Persian King Bahram V, who ruled the Sassanid Empire (420-440), according to Wikipedia, our time’s equivalent to the Oracle of Delphi.

Anyway, the princes of the story are brothers and sons of King Giaffer of Serendip. The King wants his sons to be adequately educated to be fit to follow in his tracks and gets them the best tutors available. To make absolutely sure that they have what it takes, he sends them away from Serendip to prove themselves worthy of the throne. On their adventures through different countries they observe signs, analyse them and draw conclusions leading them so much further than they could ever have dreamt and in completely unexpected directions. Hence the meaning of the word serendipity.

It strikes me as an interesting analogue to clinical research in general and of course there are numerous examples of serendipitous discoveries leading to ground-breaking progress in research.

I have personally experienced  a lot of serendipity in my life the last few years, so much in fact that I just the other day decided to make myself a necklace in tribute to my new favorite word.

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