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October 25, 2016 at 1:22 pm

It is natural and a human tendency to be discouraged when many years of study did not produce favourable result or failed to resolve a problem.

However, this is an unscientific attitude. To the  scientist any negative result or failure is a step along a path to successful search because the negative result is indicating that an alternative route or procedures can still be followed to resolve the problem. 

From the perspective scientific methodology, failure can be interpreted as an addition to  the library of cumulative scientific information. 

Two good examples of scientists that exhibited positive approaches to failure  are:

Dr Paul Ehrlich, 1908 nobel price winner for medicine and physiology.

Howard Rogers, a chemist of the Polaroid camera fame. 

Dr Ehrlich developed salvarsan for the treatment of syphilis after 605 unsuccessful experiments. Salvarsan is called formular 606 by Dr Ehrlich because he succeeded at the 606th experiment. The 605 failures of Paul Ehrlich have contributed positively to medical research by providing all the information that led to the manufacture of salvarsan as 606th formula. 

However, Rogers of the Polaroid camera fame spent 15 years researching for just the right chemical compound needed for instant colour pictures. He succeeded after experimentation with 500 different chemical compounds. His failures prior to the successful attempt have contributed to information in chemistry. 

The positive approaches to their failures have enhanced more discoveries in the science world.