The University of Massachusetts Amherst
University of Massachusetts Amherst

Search Google Appliance


Mettu Co-edits New Forum for Serendipitous Findings

Ramgopal Mettu

Ramgopal Mettu of the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department is co-editor of the new Journal of Serendipitous and Unexpected Results (JSUR), devoted to the surprises, unforeseen discoveries, and strange twists of fate that often accompany successful research. As the web site for the new publication explains, “The Journal of Serendipitous and Unexpected Results is an open-access forum for researchers seeking to further scientific discovery by sharing surprising or unexpected results. These results should provide guidance toward the verification (or negation) of extant hypotheses.”

The two branches of the journal focus respectively on the computational sciences and life sciences. JSUR was recently written up on the popular web site Slashdot (news for nerds, stuff that matters), a technology-related news website owned by Geeknet, Inc. with an estimated 5.5 million users per month.

JSUR is an international, peer-reviewed, open-access online journal. JSUR accepts reports on ongoing research in the computational and life sciences, with a specific focus on results that question existing assumptions or uncover surprising phenomena or connections.

As the JSUR site explains, successful research often leads through reasonable yet unsuccessful approaches and unexpected discoveries. Indeed, the history of science is rife with examples of important discoveries arising from such results. In particular, two of today's most fruitful areas of research, computational sciences and life sciences, have no major venues in which such intermediate results can be discussed.

“It is our belief that a forum for, and dialogue on, serendipitous and unexpected results in these areas will provide valuable insight and inform modern research practices,” says the JSUR site.

The site also quotes Isaac Asimov: "The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not 'Eureka!,’ but 'That's funny…'" (February 2010)