“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.