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Facts are the Enemy of Truth—Reflections on Serendipitous Discovery and Unforeseen Developments in Asymmetric Catalysis



As Louis Pasteur said, “Chance favors only a prepared mind.” Serendipitous events reorienting the pathway of science often occur through the actions of dedicated individuals with unique cultural and educational backgrounds, an original sense of values, and firm principles. Science is the fountainhead of human knowledge and possesses an indispensable cultural value. Science-based technologies and the innovations derived from them are the foundation of the civilized society in which we live today. All scientific endeavors begin with observations, or facts. However, the real goal of research activity is to convert accumulated knowledge to something with new technological, economic, or social value. Innovation is an essential aspect to assure the continued survival of humanity. And often, as my half-century of research reflects, the act of turning facts into values is facilitated by dialogue. Thus, to acquire the necessary combined wisdom, scientists must have ongoing conversations with the societies they serve, as well as with their counterparts in other nations.