This is my pet phrase for a pattern I've seen over and over. Feel free to describe your own exemplars.
Many will recognize "the kludge that won" as describing approximately every evolutionary advance ever, but especially the klunky ones, because 'kludge' means a hack job; a MacGuyvering; duct taped monstrosties that hang together and perform...after a fashion...for a while...sometimes by pure dumb luck.
And sometimes, the kludge wins.
Planck is famous for fixing the Raleigh Jeans model for light with his kludge. Black body radiation had two equations; one that worked for high frequencies, but bombed on the low ones, and another that accurately predicted the high frequencies.
What he did, he did completely out of the blue, considering it completely preposterous, wholly wrong, a wild tear that he'd have to fix up later;
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Max_Planck ... _radiation
He assumed that the atoms which were vibrating and creating the light could only vibrate at particular frequencies, like a guitar string instead of a slide-whistle.
He figured he'd get the right equation, work backwards and find a more realistic model to 'explain' why the correct equation worked.
Never happened. Instead the accuracy of the equation is now considered evidence that the model is true.
He created the foundation of quantum theory; energy comes in packets.
Claude Shannon invented information theory in the 1930's.
The basic question was about the nature of messages, the redundancy needed in communication channels to make sure a message got received (or the development of probabilities for addressing the same issues).
Along the way, he ended up defining 'information' as 'surprisingness' or 'amount by which a pattern gets broken,' or, and he originally meant it metaphorically, 'entropy.'
You can see it illustrated when you consider boring messages;
"The sun will rise tomorrow morning" is very uninformative because it reports the exact same pattern that people knew before stone tools were invented.
"The sun will not rise tomorrow," if true, would qualify as one of the most informative messages in the history of life, precisely because it would be such a surprise.
Equivocating information with entropy was a complete kludge, meant to illustrate, but the further the analysis went, the more it became apparent; information is entropy.
Pure random noise is the most incompressible digital message; it has the most information, AKA entropy in it.
Repeating pattering in electronic files are what make compression possible. Long strings of 1s or 0s can be replaced with shorter strings meaning "this many zeros" (simplifying, because I know few details of the pattern-recognition actually used). But using patterns like that depends on a lack of information, on the existence of some UNsurprising aspects of the pattern carrying the message.
Now we can speak reasonably about the universe being made of nothing but information, or talk about the conservation of the information that falls into a black hole because of the 2nd law of thermodynamics; entropy is always conserved.
See more; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Entropy_%2 ... _theory%29
What's your favorite Kludge That Won?