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Revista médica de Chile

versão impressa ISSN 0034-9887


LEE, Richard V. A letter from the United States: The fox in our backyard - Science, Serendipity and Surprise. Rev. méd. Chile [online]. 2009, vol.137, n.11, pp.1502-1507. ISSN 0034-9887.

The story of how Charles Darwin composed The Origin of Species, published in November of 1859, has been told many times during the bicentennial of Darwin s birth and the sesquicentennial of the publication of the book. It is a history well known to biologists and historians of science. The heated debate that accompanied the demonstration of natural selection as a mechanism of speciation and continues to the present is surprising. Human beings do not welcome surprise: "the emotion aroused by something unexpected." The history of science and human intellect, however, illustrate the creative stimulus of surprise and serendipity in the development of human knowledge and the evolution of culture. The lives of Homo sapiens would not change if our intellect was unable or unwilling to respond to the unexpected and to make connections between surprising and commonplace events. The rich diversity of South American life was surprising to the European travelers of the 18th and 19th centuries: surprising by its beauty and profusion, but also by its similarities to the creatures of Europe and Africa. Darwin s curiosity sought and welcomed surprise).

Palavras-chave : Adaptation, biological; Evolution; History, modern; Natural history.

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