The Future of Education

Edition 14

Accepted Abstracts

A penetrating effect: from Becquerel's serendipity to a scientific knowledge

Jethromel Meneses, University of the Philippines (Philippines)


This scholarly paper delves into the concept of "scientific errors" concerning the groundbreaking discovery of radioactivity by Antoine Henri Becquerel in 1896. Through a systematic and rigorous heuristic inquiry approach, the study describes and categorizes various typologies of serendipity and the conditions that facilitate its occurrence. The investigation extracts pertinent information regarding Becquerel's experimental methods to clarify the nature and type of serendipity involved in his discovery and determine its impact and contributions to the advancement of scientific knowledge. The heuristic analysis of Becquerel's sequence of experiments reveals the presence of the principle of bisociation and a Walpolian type of serendipity characterized by a combination of true serendipity and a heavy reliance on random variation. The examination of Becquerel's experimental design, results, and alternative hypotheses contradicts the commonly held notion that his discovery was purely a chance event and posits that it adheres to the fundamental principles of the scientific method, albeit in an unorthodox manner. Furthermore, the process and constitution of Becquerel's discovery serve as an important case study in understanding scientific knowledge's origins, progression, and definition.


Keywords: serendipity, scientific knowledge, Henri Becquerel, radioactivity, scientific method



[1]    Badash, L. (2005). Becquerel's blunder - JSTOR. JSTOR. Retrieved October 20, 2022, from">

[2]    Calhoun, C. J. (2010). Robert K. Merton: Sociology of science and sociology as Science. Social Science Research Council (SSRC). Retrieved November 8, 2022, from

[3]    Copeland, S. (2017). On serendipity in science: Discovery at the intersection of chance and wisdom. Synthese, 196(6), 2385–2406. 

[4]    Cunha, M. P., Clegg, S. R., & Mendonça, S. (2010). On Serendipity and organizing. European Management Journal, 28(5), 319–330.">

[5]    de Rond, M. (2014). The structure of Serendipity. Culture and Organization, 20(5), 342–358. 

[6]    Ge, X., Daphalapurkar , A., & Shimpi , M. (2017, July 17). Data-Driven Serendipity Navigation in urban places. IEEE Explore. Retrieved November 11, 2022, from">

[7]    Kipnis, N. S. (2000). The window of opportunity: Logic and chance in Becquerel's discovery of radioactivity - physics in perspective. SpringerLink. Retrieved October 20, 2022, from">

[8]    McCay-Peet, L., & Wells, P. G. (2017). Serendipity in the sciences – exploring the boundaries. Proceedings of the Nova Scotian Institute of Science (NSIS), 49(1), 97–116.

[9]    Myers, W. G. (1976). Becquerel's discovery of radioactivity in 1896. Journal of nuclear medicine : official publication, Society of Nuclear Medicine. Retrieved October 20, 2022, from 

[10] Napier, N. K., & Vuong, Q. H. (2013). Serendipity as a strategic advantage? ScholarWorks. Retrieved November 18, 2022, from">

[11] Yaqub, O. (2018). Serendipity: Towards a taxonomy and a theory. Research Policy, 47(1), 169–179.

Back to the list

Reserved area

Media Partners:

Pixel - Via Luigi Lanzi 12 - 50134 Firenze (FI) - VAT IT 05118710481
    Copyright © 2023 - All rights reserved

Privacy Policy