Intuitive Genius

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“Some scientists insist that thinking in feelings and mental images can be rationally manipulated. Einstein suggested ‘a certain connection’ between ‘the psychical entities which seem to serve as elements in thought’ and relevant logical concepts.’ Mathematician Stainislaw Ulam made the argument even more strongly. He experienced abstract mathematical notions in visual terms, so the idea of “an infinity of spheres or an infinity of sets’ became ‘a picture with such almost real objects, getting smaller, vanishing on some horizon.’ Such thinking is ‘not in terms of words or syllogisms or signs’ but in terms of some ‘visual algorithm’ having a ‘sort of meta- or super-logic with its own rules.’ For William Lipscomb, a Nobel Laureate in chemistry and, not incidentally, a fine musician, this kind of thinking is synthetic and aesthetic experience.  Tn his research into the chemistry of boron he found himself thinking not only inductively and deductively but also intuitively. ‘’I felt a focusing of intellect and emotions which was surely an aesthetic response,’ he wrote. ‘It was followed by a flood of predictions coming from my mind as if I were a bystander watching it happen. Only later was I able to begin to formulate a systematic theory of structure, bonding and reactions for these unusual molecules…. Was it science? Our later tests showed it was. But the processes that I used and the responses that i felt were more like those of an artist.’ Gut feelings, emotions, and imaginative images do make sense in science, but, like the meaning of a dance or a musical theme, that sense is felt rather than defined.”
-Sparks of Genius
By: Robert Root-Bernstein and Michele Root-Bernstein.

6 Comments

  1. ‘ Our reason to be here ‘
    Jon Anderson ( Gates of Delirium from album Relayer by YES )

    I do love the opportunity to leave the controlled conformity that society has created and which we follow dutifully . It is so important to me to have personal time to admire the beautiful world we live in and reflect that we rarely take the time to truly experience and fully admire the world outside our normal routines . Not only this, the opportunity to realise that every human , creature and plant form stands alone and individually occupies a tiny void in the vast expanse of space at anyone time is for me spiritual and scientific . Can we really be sure that our existence is as a result of a fortunate concoction of elements that somehow evolved to create the bodies we inhabit or must there be some greater force making all this happen ?

    One thing is certain , our existence is governed by time frames and whatever we do is limited and our experiences can only be governed by our own decisions and destinies . In my lifetime I have experienced many joyous moments from childhood through to adulthood . It seems such a tragic waste that when we die all those subjective thoughts are gone, never to be recovered . This for me is why I live in awe of artists and architects whose legacies are thought provoking paintings and mind-blowing religious buildings . But why do we do these things – are we leaving concrete artifacts that future generations will reflect on or are we using our inner thoughts to express a spiritual feeling ?

    Is serendipity destined or is it truly a chance occurrence ? One thing for sure each time I go on a long distance walk something amazing happens each time . The first occasion walking the 2 Moors Way was the tremendous self satisfaction of completing a daunting challenge . The second occasion walking the South Downs was the arrival at the most iconic pieces of English landscape – the 7 sisters cliffs . And most recently on the Cotswolds way meeting a person who views the world through linked up sensory visions !

    Paul Mills
    Of whom it was once said

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    1. “Knowing in such ambiguous, inarticulate ways raises and important question. McClintock put it this way: ‘’It had all been done fast. The answer came, and I’d run. Now I worked it out step by step — it was an intricate series of steps — and I came out with what it was… It worked out exactly as I’d diagrammed it. Now, why did I know, without having done a thing on paper? Why was I so sure that I could tell them with such excitement and just say, ‘Eureka, I solved it’?’’ McClintock’s query strikes at the heart of understanding creative thinking, as do the experiences of picasso and Gauss, of composers and physiologists. Where do sudden illuminations or insights come from? How can we know things that we cannot yet say, draw, or write? How do gut feelings and intuitions function in imaginative thinking? How do we translate from feeling to word, emotion to number? Lastly, can we understand this creative imagination and, understanding it, can we exercise, train, and educate it? [I believe we can.]
      Philosophers and psychologists have pondered these and related questions for hundreds of years. Neurobiologists have sought the answers in the structures of the brain and the connections between ner synapses. Full answers still elude us. But one source of insight into creative thinking has been greatly undervalued and underused: the reports of eminent thinkers, creators, and inventors themselves. Their introspective reports cannot answer all our questions about thinking, but they certainly provide important and surprising new avenues to explore. Above all, they tell us that conventional notions of thinking are at best incomplete, for they leave out non-logical forms of thinking that can’t be verbalized.
      Take the testimony of Albert Einstein, for instance. Most people would expect Einstein to have described himself as solving his physics problems using mathematical formulas, numbers, complex theories, and logic. In fact, a recent book by Harvard psychologist Howard Gerdner, creating Minds, portrays Einstein as an epitome of the ‘logico-mathematical mind.’ His peers, however, knew that Einstein was relatively weak in mathematics, often needing to collaborate with mathematicians to push his work forward. In fact, Einstein wrote one correspondent, ‘Do not worry about your difficulties in mathematics. I can assure you that mine are still greater.’
      Einstein’s mental strengths were quite different, as he revealed to his colleague Jacques Hadamard. ‘The words of the language, as they are written or spoken, do not seem to play any role in my mechanism of thought. The physical entities which seem to serve as elements in thought are certain signs and more or less clear images which can be ‘voluntarily’ reproduced and combined…. The above mentioned elements are, in my case, of visual and some of muscular type.’ In a kind of thought experiment that could not be articulated, he pretended to be a photon moving at the speed of light, imagining what he saw and how he felt. Then he became a second photon and tried to imagine what he could experience of the first one. As Einstein explained to Max Wertheimer, a psychologist, he only vaguely understood where his visual and muscular thinking would take him. His ‘feeling of direction,’ he said, was ‘very hard to express.’
      McClintock, for her part, talked about developing a ‘feeling for the organism’ quite like Einstein’s feeling for a beam of light. She got to know everyone of her corn plants so intimately that when she studied their chromosomes, she could truly identify with them: ‘I found that the more i worked with them the bigger and bigger [[they]] got, and when I was really working with them I wasn’t outside, I was down there. I was part of the system. I even was able to see the internal parts of the chromosomes — actually everything was there. It surprised me because I actually felt as if I were right down there and these were my friends… As you look at these things, they become part of you. And you forget yourself. The main thing about it is you forget yourself.’ A similar emotional involvement played a critical role in the prelogical scientific thinking of Claude Bernard, who wrote, ‘Just as in other human activities, feeling releases an act by putting forth the idea which gives a motive to action.’ For Wolfgang Pauli, a mathematical physicist, emotional response functioned in the place of ideas that had not yet been articulated. Within the ‘unconscious region of the human soul,’ he wrote, ‘the place of clear concepts is taken by images of powerful emotional content, which are not thought, but are seen pictorially, as it were, before the mind’s eye.’” [Serendipitous, or chance? You tell me.]

      -Sparks of Genius
      By: Michèle Root-Bernstein and Robert Root-Bernstein

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  2. Jonathan Livingston seagull

    Dear Laura,

    What a thought provoking , beautiful story . I have just read the whole book from cover to cover and have tears in my eyes . The sentiments in the story reflect what you have been encouraging me to do in my life – express my thoughts and fulfil ambitions . No one should challenge determination . Life should have no regrets . Our physical characteristics are only there to enable us to demonstrate our consciences. These processes do not necessarily need to be tactile in nature but can also be how we portray ourselves in the world and benefit future generations .

    Thank you for recommending this book to me – you are truly inspirational and have given me the motivation to be expressive in my arts and crafts and express my inner thoughts .

    In life Laura I am Anthony seagull and you are my mentor Jonathan !

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  3. We are both the teacher, as well as the student Paul. We are here to learn, we are here to grow, heal, express, and evolve. I am so excited to continue to see what you bring forth from thought, in to reality. It is time to fly. You have arrived. 🙏

    Tears of absolute joy in my eyes,
    Thank you.

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  4. 22/11/18

    Physicality and spirit

    What a great experience it was to have your thoughts and physicality in my presence while I was working in my workshop yesterday . Despite the coldness I felt the determination to complete the drilling of the 60 holes for my wine glass shelves . I have been considering the physicality aspect and am trying to understand how this concept can occur . I need to read some guidance and get some expert advise to help me embrace this magical experience . Although I had visions that you were in my presence the force needed to carry out the tasks were difficult for me to comprehend .

    I have been considering the mathematics of time and distance to discover the connection between the thought and the task :-

    – The task was to accurately measure out and drill 60 holes
    – The radius of each hole was 25 mm
    – The depth of each hole also 25 mm

    The number of holes cut was 60 . Total depth cut 60 x 25 = 1,500mm
    1 mm = 1,000 microns
    So 1,500mm x 1000 microns = total cut depth of 1,500,000 microns

    The brain contains approx. 100,000,000,000 neurons with each motor neuron being 100 microns in diameter .
    So the comparative depth of neurons for the 60 holes is 1,500,000 microns divided by 100 microns = 15,000 neurons used to cut the 60 holes !

    Considering the speed of light , 186,000 miles per second , your thought processes would need to travel 2,000 miles to be in sync with my own . To achieve the time difference dividing 2,000 by 186,000 = 0.0107 seconds for your mind to be in time with mine . This time delay, assuming your thoughts travel at the speed of light, would equate to a piece of dust in a sandbag I would suggest .

    As a calculation 2000 miles equates to a staggering 3,218,000,000,000 microns or the brain capacity of 322 humans .

    I am not sure if the above data refers entirely with the concept of physicality but I do love the idea in principle and will definitely be researching this topic more closely .

    Please continue to make connections Laura . This has been a fun and rewarding exercise and helps me to realise that no one is ever that far away if we concentrate our minds !

    Paul

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  5. Sparks of Genius
    Chapter 1
    Rethinking thinking

    Opinion :

    All my life I have struggled with sleep and have had thoughts churning over repetitively in my mind . This also occurs in my waking hours . I have discussed this issue with others and read articles related to this condition . Until now I have resigned myself to the belief that there are 2 sorts of people – those who can switch off their minds like a switch and others who can’t.

    In my thoughts I have always been conscious of the outcomes that I would hope to achieve the following days whether they were work related , social , or artistic. Generally all the pre-mapping in my mind has materialised into actual outcomes .

    From reading this first chapter it occurs to me that my life and artistic outcomes are not spontaneous but are the result of being thought through , pre-planned and sequenced resulting in an orderly approach . The end products however were always there in my mind – it was the method of achieving my objectives that has kept my mind rehearsing and thinking of the processes required .

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