Posts Tagged ‘idea’

The moment it clicks

One of the most beautiful aspects of doing math is the flash of insight that lets you out of a mental block.

This may appear surprising to those not in the field but the fact is that research mathematicians fumble around looking for the light switch in a dark room for much of their waking hours. Things usually don’t work out. Being stuck on a problem is the default state.

That’s what makes those moments precious. Suddenly, you see it. A germ of an idea appears in your head, something clicks and you realize — this will work.

My roommate has a wonderful book on photography whose title is the subject of this post. The book has amazing photographs but I also find the title excellent. It is all about the moment, in art and in math.

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“Once upon a time, there was a man who was convinced that he possessed a Great Idea.  Indeed, as the man thought upon the Great Idea more and more, he realized that it was not just a great idea, but the most wonderful idea ever. The Great Idea would unravel the mysteries of the universe, supersede the authority of the corrupt and error-ridden Establishment, confer nigh-magical powers upon its wielders, feed the hungry, heal the sick, make the whole world a better place, etc. etc. etc.

The man was Francis Bacon, his Great Idea was the scientific method, and he was the only crackpot in all history to claim that level of benefit to humanity and turn out to be completely right.”

Eliezer Yudkowsky

(Hat Tip: Sudeep Kamath)

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