Research on this book goes back many years and during that time I benefitted from the advice and encouragement of many fellow scientists.  I am most grateful to my fellow-organizers of the 1986 AAAS symposium on serendipity, Rustum Roy and the late John Christman, for their interest and inspiration.  Without the cooperation of Jean’ne Shreve, who was Chairperson Elect of the Chemistry Section of AAAS, the symposium could not have taken place.  I am most grateful to her and to those who made presentations at the symposium:  Roy Plunkett,  Lawrence David,  Kurt Nassau,  Ann Clamandon, and James Moran.  Sincere thanks are due to my good friend and collaborator, Damian Jones, whose continued encouragement and help in many incidental tasks was invaluable.
Part of the impetus for writing this book was the publication of four articles in Chemtech describing much of the material covered in the 1986 symposium.  Initially, one article was submitted but, with the encouragement and assistance provided by Dorit Noether and the late Ben Luberoff,  the coverage was greatly extended.  I am grateful for their support. Following the first draft of the book, I was helped greatly by the late Celeste Kirk.  Her vast experience helped to provide organization for what consisted of relatively disparate singular instances of serendipity.
To search through years of Current Contents issues would require filling out countless request slips at the National Medical Library on the grounds of the National Institutes of Health.  I was spared that tedious task by the understanding research staff at that wonderful library.  Similarly, I was given access to the stacks at the National Agricultural Library at Beltsville, MD so that I could leaf through many volumes bearing the title of “Annual Review of ------.”   Circumstances controlling such permissions would make privileges, such as this, almost impossible now.
My admiration of the Naval Research Laboratory where I worked for many years is evident in Chapter #13 of this book.  In fact, the decision to include the word “Wisdom” in the title of the book was dictated by the philosophy I came to appreciate at NRL.  Research is defined, in part, as “investigation or experimentation aimed at the discovery and interpretation of facts.”  No one can argue with that definition, but experience has shown that major advances have also been made as the result of observations that were far removed from an orderly progression of thought.  How does a scientist who is indoctrinated with the “scientific method” reconcile the difference between a rigorously planned study and an incidental, fortuitous, fact that seems promising?  I was privileged to have, as my supervisor for many years, John Leonard who had a broad understanding of science.  John was rigorously logical in his interpretation of research results but, at the same time, appreciated the possibility that unforeseen developments might merit closer study.  The same can be said of Homer Carhart whose accomplishments are featured in that chapter.  I am most grateful that I knew both of these men so well.  Another extremely helpful accomplice at NRL was  Kathy Parrish who took the time to dig out of the files many of the pictures that are included in this book.
To all of the respondents from the inquiries sent to members of the Royal Society and the National Academy of Sciences I am very grateful.  It was a pleasant surprise to receive responses from so many renowned individuals who took the time to respond to the questions I asked of them.  They were: J.C. Skou, Carl Woese,  Robert M. Berne,  Eric C. Conn,  Sir David Cox,  Ross E. Davis,  Robert E. Dickinson,  O.H. Frankel,  Robert C. Gallo, W. Thirring,  Henry M. Hoenigswald,   J. Woodland Hastings,  Frank Hahn, Herbert Hauptman,  T. Kent Kirk,  Alfred G. Knudson, Jr.,  Robert J. Lefkowitz,  Donald H. Levy,  Daniel McKenzie,  Robert H. Purcell,  Edwin Roedder,  Heini Rohrer,  George N. Somero,  Endel Tulving,  Sir Richard Southwood,  George D. Watkins,  M. Gordon Wolman,  Morris Halle,  John H. Crowe,  Walter Bodmer,  Brigitte A. Askonas,   Mark S. Bretscher, Allan S. Hay,  Martin Aitken,  G.J. Van Nossal,  M.H.P. Bott,  J.C. Polanyi,  R.M. Laws,  Eugene Roberts,  Thomas F. Anderson,  Sir David Cox,  Baruch S. Blumberg,  Thomas B. Roberts,  Donald Walker,  John M. Edmond,  W. Reichardt,  A.D. Bangham,  Michael J. Berridge,  G. Burnstock,  Fergus W. Campbell,  Dennis Chapman,  Geoffrey Eglinton,  Noreen E. Murray,  Edward C. Cocking,  A. Dalgarno,  L.G. Goodwin,  Robin Holliday,   Edward Irving,  and K.L. Johnson.
Throughout much of my career at the Naval Research Laboratory I was a member of the Thomas Edison Toastmasters Club.  Typically, such a club provides critical reviews of the speeches being presented, and the lessons learned there have carried over into the writing of this book. I am particularly mindful of the interest shown by Rex Neihof, Kathy Parrish, and Tom Gordon.  In recent years, also, there have been many lunches shared with Joe Aviles, Joe Dytrt, and Perry Alers in which we discussed serendipity along with national issues of slightly less importance.
For editorial help at many times I have relied on others including Dale Bultman, Kingsley Williams, Al Herner, Robert Lamontagne, Bill Barger, Wally Brundage, and John Leonard.  I am particularly grateful to my daughter, Peg Laramie, whose long experience in journalism was most helpful in appraising the wealth of material that I had uncovered through the years.
In my post-retirement years I have benefited from having many friends at the Environmental Fate and Effects Division, in the Office of Pesticide Programs at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Crystal City, VA.   No one has a greater appreciation of serendipity than Alex Clem, whose enthusiasm for the subject has been treasured.  Others who have proofread much of what appears in this book are Susan Lees, Dana Spatz, Tom Kopp, Faruque Khan, Ron Harper, Dave Jones, Kevin Costello, Leo LaSota,  Tom Steeger, Nelson Thurman, Jim Hetrick,  Ed Fite, Ed Odenkirchen,  Brian Montague, Minh-Thuy Nguyen,  Jim Carlton,  Silvia Termes,  and Skee Jones.   For solving innumerable computer problems for me, I will always be grateful to Tom Kopp.
Finally, I express extreme gratitude to Cathy Hotka and Peg Laramie, my daughters, whose grasp of  technical details concerning the art of writing has been completely invaluable.