Do you know some people who seem to have all the luck in the world, while others bounce from one disaster to another? Have you ever wondered about the part that this sort of luck plays in scientific progress? The chance meeting of two scientists working on the same problem from different angles that leads to a breakthrough? The discovery of graphene through a bit of sticky tape and some pencils? Is luck something we should even be discussing at a scientific show?
Enter Richard Wiseman – Professor of the Public Understanding of Psychology at the University of Hertfordshire and author of The Luck Factor: The Scientific Study of the Lucky Mind among a library of other published books. Richard has devoted 10 years to analysing people’s perceptions of their luckiness and asking the question: ‘what sets lucky people apart from the unlucky?’ His research has led to the surprising conclusion that our thoughts create the luck in our lives, and Richard has identified four key principles – or behavioural techniques – that lucky people share in common, which can be easily embraced and adapted by anyone.
The first principle is particularly pertinent to attendees at the SLS Show and Conference 2020. In The Luck Factor, Richard writes: “Lucky people create, notice and act upon the chance opportunities in their life.” For example, Professors Andre Geim and Kostya Novoselov discovered graphene during their regular Friday night experiments, which provided playful opportunities to explore new scientific ideas and activities outside of their main research. Were they simply lucky? Richard Wiseman would say no – the Manchester professors’ frequent experimental sessions created their luck, as they provided an increasing number of opportunities to discover something novel and interesting.
Being in the right place at the right time is often down to the right state of mind. For example, a ‘lucky’ person is more likely to talk to a stranger in a queue or a public place, setting the groundwork for serendipitous interactions. Lucky people also tend to be open to new experiences and enjoy the novel and the unexpected. They may, for example, go to a party and choose to talk to people who are different to them and not their ‘normal’ crowd.
Consider how you can adopt a similar mindset as your visit to the show this year draws nearer. What seminars could you drop into that you might normally opt out of? What networking events could you attend or who could you invite for a drink to further discuss a potential partnership? What company stands could you visit that are not specifically in your line of work? One of the many benefits of bringing so many scientists from different industries together is the possibility to share knowledge, discover new products and develop new partnerships. A visit to the Scientific Laboratory Show and Conference 2020 will be a perfect opportunity to hear Richard speak and then put the principles straight into practice. Who knows what luck we might be able to create together?
See Richard’s full presentation at 2.00pm on Wednesday the 20th of May at the East Midlands Conference Centre at the University of Nottingham. In the meantime, take a look around the website, explore the range of exhibitors attending, and look out for seminars and workshops that you want to attend. And you can always keep up with the latest news on Twitter – follow @SciLabShow and #SciLabShow2020.