How to think like Albert Einstein

Effort and solitude are essential to making revolutionary ideas. Can our classrooms prepare students accordingly?

Effort and solitude are essential to making revolutionary ideas. Can our classrooms prepare students accordingly?

The prediction has already begun. On the first Monday in October every year, the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine is awarded, followed by the prizes for Physics, Chemistry, Literature, Peace and Economics. The Nobel Prizes are so special that they have become an example of excellence – if there was any such thing as a “prize”, it would be the Nobel Prize in these fields.

It’s not that people are already working for The award – Raman’s biography, going for a apocryphal story, was an exception and I actually believe he would get a medal. Few people avoid prizes because of the hype around them. However, some discoveries bypass trophies and prizes and actually change the gears of the mechanism that is the field itself – like Albert Einstein’s brilliant papers on relativity, Foundations of Quantum Mechanics by Erwin Schrödinger and Werner Heisenberg, Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution, etc. There are some individuals who have gone above and beyond and stood head and shoulders above the rest, such as Srinivasa Ramanujan or Isaac Newton.

In this spectrum of accomplishments, given only those who revolutionized a field, it is perhaps not surprising that the authors of these revolutions underwent a virtual transformation of their bodies and souls before they could think differently and come up with their own ideas. Great ideas.

Chilean writer Benjamin Lapatot When we stop understanding the worldtranslated from Spanish Written by Adrian Nathan West, he takes excerpts from the lives of exceptional mathematicians and scientists, and breaks down these objects to highlight the many aspects of the discovery process and the suffering and suffering of scientists living in dire conditions in order to put it to paper and, with some clarity, the ideas sprouted in their minds.

Heisenberg example

The story of German physicist Werner Karl Heisenberg’s exile to Helgoland, an island in the North Sea, where he pushes himself to endure harsh trials before the extraordinary idea – the Uncertainty Principle – emerges on paper as a set of equations that can be communicated to the world. Yes, he still had to work on it until it reached a publishable quality, but the gist of the idea then emerged after his stay on the island. Could Heisenberg have come up with this idea if he had lived a so-called “normal” life and conformed to the Nine-to-Five Living Regulations?

From Heisenberg’s example, and other such stories, it appears that truly revolutionary ideas require solitude, spartan living, and even an extraordinary degree of physical exertion before they emerge from the depths of the mind.

Even in everyday situations, some solitude and quiet reflection may aid the discovery process. As a complement to this allowing silence and solitude, smart questions coming in one’s way can also help. Nobel laureate Kip Thorne describes this method in his book Black Holes and Time Warps: Einstein’s Terrible Legacy. He stresses the importance of time when he is alone, and is not disturbed by any phone calls or conversation that can disrupt the smooth flow of ideas. Then again, he also points out that relevant questions and ideas coming from others can actually help ideas flourish.

In class

Such thoughts raise the question, are our lives and classrooms designed to flourish this creative desire that resides in most young people? A good place to start this inquiry is the school. There is no doubt that education is a necessary and formative element in the making of society. However, there is something within the individual that “gnaws the shackles” that the school imposes on the free-flowing spirit. Classes should be designed to encourage questioning and nurture free-flowing spirits, as much as they stress discipline and learning outcomes.

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