What does it take to produce your best work, your magnum opus, your proudest creation?
Dean Keith Simonton is one of those who spent more than three decades looking to answer this question. He and his colleagues published some of the most comprehensive studies on people who did exceptional work in arts, science, business, engineering, and other areas.
“Is the thinking that leads to exceptional performance the same in music as in science or business?” Simonton wondered. After all, an engineer’s way of thinking has little, if anything, in common with a painter. To answer this question and more, Simonton…
In 1967, a young American executive named David Wallerstein was tasked with a mission: to increase popcorn sales in his company’s movie theatres.
To entice people to buy more popcorn, Wallerstein tried all sorts of marketing tricks: buy one get one at half price, morning specials, yet profits remained flat. Then one day, he had an “aha” moment. Wallerstein thought: “What if we offer people more popcorn without forcing them to buy a second bag?” It was easy: just offer a larger bag. Shortly after, the jumbo size was introduced, and sales of popcorn skyrocketed.
Wallerstein’s idea seems obvious, yet…
Creativity on demand is hard. It took us six thousand years to come up with the rolling suitcase: from the invention of the wheel in Mesopotamia to Bernad Sadow’s patent in 1970.
Why is creativity so hard? And is it possible to have great ideas more easily?
To answer these questions, scientists carried a series of experiments worthy of a Marvel script. They designed electrical helmets to control brain activity, energising certain brain parts and putting other parts to sleep. The results of these experiments — known as transcranial direct-current stimulation (tDCS) — were no less than astounding.
When it comes to mastery, motivation is more important than talent. Without it, the difficult hours of practice — necessary to elevate you above the rest — can feel excruciating.
But where does motivation come from, and can you create more if you want to? Psychologists have identified three critical elements that ignite motivation, all of which you can tweak to your advantage.
According to psychologists, your motivation peaks when you feel in charge. Whether practising on your own or working in a team, your perception of autonomy predicts how energised you can be in chasing your goal.
For more than twenty years, Christopher Langan was heralded as “America’s smartest man”. With a score well over 190, his IQ sits thirty points comfortably above that of Albert Einstein — putting him in the exceptionally gifted category. Dig a little deeper, however, and you’ll discover that the smartest man isn’t that smart.
Secluded in a hay farm in Missouri’s outskirts, Langan earns a living as a club bouncer. When he’s not kicking troublemakers out of the club, he likes to spread conspiracy theories and anti-immigration ideas online. For years, Langan tried to convince the scientific community of his theories…
I was fortunate to interact and learn from lots of smart people. From my years as a research scientist to the projects I helped build as a software developer, the teams I worked with faced tough challenges and sometimes failed along the way. But we always pulled a form of success from the endeavour.
Whatever the project, the field, and the exceptional people I worked with, I saw four big qualities that smart people have. These qualities helped them achieve their goals, grow personally, and learn more. …
“Colleges are basically for fun and to prove you can do your chores. But they are not for learning.”
This is what Elon Musk said in an interview. I’m actually baffled by the number of likes the video had, especially since the statement is rather silly.
To survive and thrive, a college education is crucial for many people worldwide, particularly in low-income countries. Higher education is shown to shrink poverty on a global scale. According to UNESCO, teenage girls are five times more likely to get pregnant when they skip college education. …
A few years ago, a University of Pennsylvania Professor named Erling Boe made a strange discovery.
Every year, countries compete in what’s known as TIMSS (Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study). But before the test, students are asked to complete a very long survey of 120 questions. This task is so tedious that many students skip lots of questions.
Now here’s the interesting part. Boe found he could precisely predict the top winning countries by ranking them based on the average number of questions answered on that survey.
In other words, students who are patient and focused enough to…
Christopher Havens, a convicted murderer serving a twenty-five-year sentence, is the lead author of a world-class discovery in mathematics. He made the breakthrough in collaboration with renowned university researchers. But Chris, the leading author, never finished high school.
Even as a movie script, this would be far fetched. Who would think that someone can master advanced mathematics without higher education, let alone from a prison cell? That’s why Chris's story is worth investigating, as it carries a great lesson in time management, learning, and achieving the unthinkable even in total lockdown and with limited resources.
But how exactly did Chris…
Try to solve this puzzle:
A bacteria doubles every twenty-four hours. It takes thirty days to fills a lake. On what day is the lake half-full?
Guess fast; the answer is quite easy. Did you find it?
Don’t feel bad if this seems hard at first glance. Because you’re trying to solve the problem forward, it’s hard to see the answer right away. Try again by looking at the problem backwards. Here’s how to do it:
The lake is filled on day thirty. How about on day twenty-nine? Since the bacteria doubles every twenty-four hours, this means it should be…