Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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Just try it

Try things and do science
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We've all heard the stories of "hmm that's odd" moments, where a discovery is made by someone working on something. Galvanized rubber is the famous example. Note the man had been looking for galvanized rubber for years, it wasn't, as commonly believed, just a freak accident. But the man was there to see it and understand what it meant and test it. How many similar discoveries have passed us by because a farmer didn't see that cotton plant yielding three times the normal amount? Or the housewife didn't take the time to wonder why those three cleaning chemicals left a very hard translucent shell on that one tile which was super easy to clean for ten years? Or the mechanic didn't wonder why what particular pump component which had something spilled on it lasted well beyond its expected end of life?

"Hmm, that's strange" is often enough the mother of discovery, but it doesn't happen frequently enough. This lab would hire a variety of experienced laborers with no science background at all. Their task would be to play with a large number of objects related to their specialty in unusual ways. For example a cook would be tasked with making recipes which definitely should not work for the purpose of finding unusual combinations of ingredients or cooking methods. An electrical engineer would use wires made of mixes of metals that should not improve anything just to see if they do. A worker in plastics would add arbitrary things to batches of plastic to find a kind of plastic which doesn't' act the way it should.

Findings would be investigated by a small team of actual scientists, someone would search through patent history to make sure it wasn't already discovered at some point, the novel idea would be patented, and the patent sold.
Voice, Aug 07 2023

Pasta and concrete? http://cowsome.com/...pasta-and-concrete/
Yeah, that could work, [a1, Aug 07 2023]

AI Is Building Highly Effective Antibodies That Humans Can’t Even Imagine https://www.wired.c...y-machine-learning/
[a1, Aug 14 2023]


       Not sure how this is different from ordinary everyday life?
pocmloc, Aug 07 2023

       // Galvanized rubber //   

       Vulcanized rubber?
a1, Aug 07 2023

       No, you are thinking of Vulcanised steel. Named after Vulcan Smith, the winged god of the Delta.
pocmloc, Aug 07 2023

       I thought that was Leonard Nimoy.
a1, Aug 07 2023

       ANYHOW... having read and reread it, I think I get what you're saying. You want a lab intentionally set up to try things that *shouldn't* work, look for the unexpected stuff, and pursue those leads.   

       Is that right'?
a1, Aug 07 2023

       //Is that right'?//   

Voice, Aug 07 2023

       Let me know how that "pushing toothpaste back into the tube" things works out for them. It should have great application in the related fields of pushing a piece of rope uphill and construction projects using overcooked spaghetti for support.
a1, Aug 07 2023

       But what if they learn that the overcooked spaghetti they're using is hydrolyzed in a way which, if applied to concrete, offers a less rigid product?
Voice, Aug 07 2023

       Hey that was MY discovery and I was just about to patent it and you have ruined EVERYTHING! Damn you! Now I will never make my meelions <sobs>
pocmloc, Aug 07 2023

       um... I'm sorry?
Voice, Aug 07 2023

       OK back to the practicalities. How would this lab be funded? If one lab is good, is two better? Is there any reason why this project should not be rolled out nation-wide? Make participation a condition of access to state benefits and services.
pocmloc, Aug 08 2023

       [Voice], the article I just linked made me think of your concept. Using AI to simulate antibody development lets scientists “just try it” on grand scales without the costs and risks of clinical trials. Similarly could be applied to material s scienes.
a1, Aug 14 2023

       Guess what. It just happened with putative superconductors. Casting off in the darkness is cool, but please come back with something good, or just come back, period. We've got a pretty good system as long as there's enough 1) curiosity, 2) energy, and 3) free time to follow someone down their rabbit hole. When things get tight the PT Barnum effect takes over and anyone will say anything, with no one to prove them in error. But now if someone makes extraordinary claims there's an instant flash mob of testers, investigators, and BS artists with enough of all three to take on the claimant. Good system. Just don't go broke.
minoradjustments, Aug 14 2023


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