Some scientific research may have seemed vague at first, amusing or even stupid, others thought for one purpose, but accidentally out of control and led to unpredictable results. Sometimes, by lucky accident, they led to a scientific breakthrough. It was for these discoveries that the Golden Goose prize was invented.
For example, the creation of Tamoxifen, a tumours drug, began with experiments in which scientists were "funny," showing how the substance included and turned off parts of the body of women's laboratory mice, and received one of the Golden Goose Awards in 2021.
In the same year, scientists celebrated the success of the award, and it turns out that the development of MRNA drugs and vaccines started with a meeting of two professors at a university copy machine, while the slow machine was doing its work with scientists for a long time to discuss its problems and find out that together they could solve them.
I'm sure a lot of scientific, and not only, discoveries would have been impossible without accidents and cassels, and in 11 years the Golden Goose Award has collected 33 success stories, and these are the three works that the American Association for the Advancement of Sciences has done this year.
How trauma in the lab improved the microsurgery of the eye
Almost 30 years ago, Detao Du, a graduate student at the University of Michigan's Centre for Super-Speed Optical Research, accidentally suffered a laser eye injury in the lab. Fortunately, his injury did not have much effect on his eyesight, but after studying the effects of a femtosecond laser on a cornea, researchers at the Centre concluded that low-energy laser pulses could be used for ultra-thin incisions without damaging the above-mentioned or adjacent tissue.
The idea of laser microsurgery was developed a few years ago, but this technology used a picosecond laser that used a lot of impulse energy, which led to poor tissue incisions.
Scientists from the Centre for Super-Speed Optical Research began testing their technology for animals in 1996 and 1997 and the results were stunning: testing showed a low level of damage after surgery; today, the procedure, also known as the full laser LASIK, is considered the standard in this field and is used annually by millions of people to correct their eyesight.
Ron Kurtz, Tibor Yuhas, Detao Du, Gerard Moore and Donna Strickland received Golden Goose for opening a new method of correction.
How to collect a microscope from paper
During his work in remote areas of India and Thailand, a scientist from Stanford University, Manu Prakash, faced a problem: modern microscopes were inaccessible in the region and transport and technical barriers made their supply too expensive; as a result, there was only one very expensive microscope at the station where the scientist worked, and researchers were afraid to use it because it was fragile and more expensive than most employees' salaries.
The scientist decided to try to manage himself and create a cheap microscope of accessible materials that could be used in field trials. The most popular of these was paper. Together with the graduate student Jim Zibulski, the scientist began to design paper microscopes and applied the principles of origami to printer paper, matchboxes and file folders.
As a result, the scientist invented the Foldscope, an optical microscope that can be assembled from a perforated sheet of cardboard, a spherical glass lens, a light emitting diode and a lens panel, as well as batteries for clocks feeding the LED. In the collected form, the device does not exceed the bookmark but weighs only 8 g.
Using a normal 140-fold lens, you can collect a device that will allow you to look at most of the popular bacteria. Scientists argue that anyone can print the Foldscope on the A4 page and collect it in 7 minutes. In 10 years, 2 million paper microscopes have been distributed worldwide in more than 160 countries and have been used to diagnose infectious diseases, detect counterfeit drugs, and in many other areas.
Manu Prakash and Jim Zibulski received Golden Goose for "a way to create an inexpensive high-end paper microscope that scientists can use to diagnose disease and expand scientific education in remote areas, making science available worldwide".
What is there to examine when there is nothing to do?
A group of scientists led by Lourdes Cruz and Baldomero Oliver conducted DNA research in the late 1960s. Due to supply chain problems, the materials needed for the work were not available, and scientists decided to focus on local species.
The country's coastal waters contained a large amount of Conus Magus snails, inspired by local stories about the lethal effects of toxins on humans, and researchers began to experiment.
It turned out that these animals contained more than a thousand chemicals with different effects, and years later in the early 1980s, Michael McIntosh, who had just graduated from school and worked for Oliver's team, discovered zyconotide among them.
This substance, also known as Prialt, was one of the most powerful neobiotic painkillers in the United States, operating a thousand times more powerful than morphine. After years of research in 2004, the use of zyconotide was approved in the United States, and in 2005 it was approved in Europe and later in many other countries around the world.
In addition to the drug value, zyconotide and other substances emitted from the poison Conus Magus are actively used to study the central nervous system.
Craig Clarke, Lourdes Cruz, Michael McIntosh, and Baldomero Oliver have received Golden Goose for "The Neopioid Painkiller drug contained in the venom of tiny snail cones, which significantly reduces the pain of patients with chronic diseases and helps researchers develop new ways to map the nervous system".
The stories of amazing discoveries show that there are no desperate situations, and a real scientist will always find a place for experiments and discoveries, and perhaps problems with suppliers or lack of equipment are not an obstacle, but a chance to create something new.