Curiosity is a powerful tool. It makes us question our surroundings and compels us to ask why things work the way they do. It kicks the mind into exploration.
But the addition of courage takes curiosity a step further; it tries to fill the void through hands-on experimentation. These small tests are fuel for failure in disguise as they convert ignorance into knowledge.
In 1726, an Apple dropped from a tree and hit the elder physicist Isaac Newton on the head. It was then he discovered insight into gravity. Or so the story goes.
In reality, he had already done a lot of his thinking while staring at the surrounding apple trees. Newton’s friend and biographer William Stukeley wrote: “Occasion’d by the fall of an apple, as he sat in contemplative mood.”
We polish stories, embellish them, so they’re more memorable and thus more shareable. To quote librarian Keith Moore, the Newton story is “an 18th-century sound bite.”
There is no such thing as a Eureka moment. Light-bulb moments arise because we’ve already spent a long time thinking about them and letting the subconscious do its work.
It’s no surprise that big ideas seem to happen in dull moments when we’re in the shower or doing the dishes. Ideas also come to us during rest. A resting mind still hungers for stimulation because creativity is always awake.
This is also why planning unscheduled time is so vital to the work process. We have to get out of our own heads so we can think with more clarity.
Eureka moments are a myth. They occur when we’re thinking without thinking. The right ‘creative’ brain is always on. It splits duties with the left brain to interpret various phenomena.
What an astonishing thing a book is. It’s a flat object made from a tree with flexible parts on which are imprinted lots of funny dark squiggles. But one glance at it and you’re inside the mind of another person, maybe somebody dead for thousands of years. Across the millennia, an author is speaking clearly and silently inside your head, directly to you. Writing is perhaps the greatest of human inventions, binding together people who never knew each other, citizens of distant epochs. Books break the shackles of time. A book is proof that humans are capable of working magic.
Carl Sagan, from the Cosmos episode “The Persistence of Memory”