In 1945, a U.S. defense contractor employee was working on the magnetron, a microwave-emitting tube used in radar systems to detect Nazi warplanes, when he noticed something unexpected: The bar of chocolate in his coat was melting. Percy Lebaron Spencer hadn’t been the first to observe this effect of the magnetron, but he was the first to be curious enough to experiment with it. With a prototyped metal box and a high-density electromagnetic field, he investigated its effect on different foods, such as popcorn and eggs. The first microwave was born, with a helping hand from serendipity.
In his new book, The Serendipity Mindset, Christian Busch, director of the global economy program at New York University’s Center for Global Affairs, makes the case that serendipity is the result of a sensibility that allows people to spot and act on unexpected, fortuitous connections when others would dismiss them. And he