So many changes going on, it’s hard to grasp their existence and influence on our lives. What’s great about these changes is that they inspire people to generate new ideas and make new decisions. What’s challenging is many people need help figuring out how to do that.
A simple approach for generating new ideas and making new decisions is to challenge assumptions, like Scientist Dr. Erik Verlande, a respected string theorist who is questioning the assumption of gravity.
He’s written a paper, presented his ideas and who knows? Maybe in a short time we’ll reconsider a belief long-held since Newton’s apple dropped.
A recent NY Times article outlines his story. Here’s how this creativity professional assembles it to show the creative process behind a theory that could fundamentally shift our thinking to shape a new reality. It introduces the protagonist, the inspiration, the response from peers of the new idea, and finally, the support and reflections.
The image is linked to the original text that appeared in Science, NY Times A Scientist Takes On Gravity
by Dennis Overbye
Published: July 12, 2010. A string theorist is not tethered to the notion of gravity, saying the force is a consequence of thermodynamics.
Erik Verlinde, 48, a respected string theorist and professor of physics at the University of Amsterdam, contends that gravity is an illusion. Reversing the logic of 300 years of science, he argued in a recent paper, titled “On the Origin of Gravity and the Laws of Newton,” that gravity is a consequence of the venerable laws of thermodynamics, which describe the behavior of heat and gases. It has caused a continuing ruckus among physicists, or at least among those who profess to understand it.
That inspiration came to him courtesy of a thief.
As he was about to go home from a vacation in the south of France last summer, a thief broke into his room and stole his laptop, his keys, his passport, everything. “I had to stay a week longer,” he said, “I got this idea.”
Up the beach, his brother got a series of e-mail messages first saying that he had to stay longer, then that he had a new idea and finally, on the third day, that he knew how to derive Newton’s laws from first principles, at which point Herman recalled thinking, “What’s going on here? What has he been drinking?”
When they talked the next day it all made more sense, at least to Herman. “It’s interesting,” Herman said, “how having to change plans can lead to different thoughts.”
Experts respond to the new theory
Some of the best physicists in the world say they don’t understand Dr. Verlinde’s paper, and many are outright skeptical. But some of those very same physicists say he has provided a fresh perspective on some of the deepest questions in science, namely why space, time and gravity exist at all — even if he has not yet answered them.
“Some people have said it can’t be right, others that it’s right and we already knew it — that it’s right and profound, right and trivial,” Andrew Strominger, a string theorist at Harvard said.
“What you have to say,” he went on, “is that it has inspired a lot of interesting discussions. It’s just a very interesting collection of ideas that touch on things we most profoundly do not understand about our universe. That’s why I liked it.”
Friends’ support and reflections
Over lunch in New York, Dr. Verlinde ruminated over his experiences of the last six months. He said he had simply surrendered to his intuition. “When this idea came to me, I was really excited and euphoric even,” Dr. Verlinde said. “It’s not often you get a chance to say something new about Newton’s laws. I don’t see immediately that I am wrong. That’s enough to go ahead.”
He said friends had encouraged him to stick his neck out and that he had no regrets. “If I am proven wrong, something has been learned anyway. Ignoring it would have been the worst thing.”
The creative process morals of the story?
– Put a new idea out there and people will be confused. Persevere anyway. There’s a lot to learn in the doing.
– Make the most of unexpected delays. A new idea could be harboring in your intuition ready to pop, when the relaxation occurs.
– When a new idea is presented to you, consider what might be interesting about it and not judge it wrong or bad right away.
– Pay attention to your intuition.
What assumptions are you making about everyday things that could be challenged to create an exciting new future? New ideas and new decisions, anyone?