Jump to content

Great Advances for Humanity Depend on Dedicated Weirdos


Recommended Posts

In contemplating advances in spaceflight, it's worth considering the nature of human innovation itself.  Mesoamerican civilizations knew how to observe and predict the movements of celestial bodies, communicate over vast distances, cut stone and wood very precisely and preserve ideas across generations in writing.  Still, not one of them invented the wheel or learned how to distribute weight via the arch.

Innovations we take for granted are far from assured!

How strange was the first person in the Levant (or wherever) to use the wheel?  It must have been completely mind-blowing!

As we look to the future, we will keep seeing a slow march of progress from regular sources like tech companies and universities.  However, the next, giant leap for humanity will come from a very odd mind.

Is it worth cultivating a nursery for weirdos, knowing that you are also cultivating a nursery for shams?

 

Edited by Jonfliesgoats
Link to post
Share on other sites

I'd rather say you need to have people who are trained engineers, yet keep the creative streak of a borderline insane artist. To not be afraid of thinking ouf of the box, yet to know enough about nature and engineering to apply that for the benefit of mankind (We're  talking STEM right?).

But in general, yes. Ordinary minds look at ordinary things in ordinary way.

Extraordinary minds look at extraordinary things in ways ordinary minds look at ordinary things, and look at ordinary things the way ordinary minds look at extraordinary things.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Absolutely.  Looking at my first post, it reminds me of some of the dumb corporate posters that I occasionally see defacing our walls ("2+2=5: Synergy!  It's up to you!").  What I am really driving it is how you manage to get real science and engineering feats accomplished without forcing new talent into the limitations of current group-think.  It's a problem I haven't managed to crack yet.

Link to post
Share on other sites
6 hours ago, 11of10 said:

I'd rather say you need to have people who are trained engineers, yet keep the creative streak of a borderline insane artist. To not be afraid of thinking out of the box, yet to know enough about nature and engineering to apply that for the benefit of mankind

Exactly, else we end up in Bester's vision of the world as read in "The Disappearing Act":

http://www.edwardwinkleman.com/2013/05/send-me-poet-open-thread.html

Link to post
Share on other sites
On 1.11.2016 at 1:03 AM, Jonfliesgoats said:

In contemplating advances in spaceflight, it's worth considering the nature of human innovation itself.  Mesoamerican civilizations knew how to observe and predict the movements of celestial bodies, communicate over vast distances, cut stone and wood very precisely and preserve ideas across generations in writing.  Still, not one of them invented the wheel or learned how to distribute weight via the arch.

I'm not sure whether innovations in the past can be compared to modern innovations.

Mesoamerican civilisations are contemporary with old-wolrd post-roman / early to high mediaval / early islamic times. The principle of weight distribution is surely much older; plaeolithic i would say (tens, maybe hundreds of thousands of years) . Large animals where dissected on site, the chunks carried to the camp, so the technique was probably used automatically by hunters and gatherers, without much fuss :-)

From the Antique on innovations were based on single persons (reportedly), not much knowledge about different fields of science is needed to invent a wheel or see the stars move. Wheel: see Hittites (not those from religious context, the real late bronze / early iron age ones :-)), but wheels are frequently used at least from early bronze age on.

Quote

Innovations we take for granted are far from assured!

Hmm, i tend to follow you, but would you care to you give an example of what you mean ?

 

Quote

As we look to the future, we will keep seeing a slow march of progress from regular sources like tech companies and universities.  However, the next, giant leap for humanity will come from a very odd mind.

Is it worth cultivating a nursery for weirdos, knowing that you are also cultivating a nursery for shams?

Nice idea, if only we knew the future. The next giant leap ... i don't know whether a single person still can do a giant leap like the historic persons or whether teams of specialist of different fields are necessary to write down something new. But i do know that most weirdos are just weirdos. Encouraging them by pampering ... if i was a weirdo (yeah yeah !) i would love it ... :-)

Having an idea is not enough, everyone has ideas, not necessarily weirdos :-) Problem is the realisation, especially of complex systems ...

 

Edited by Green Baron
Link to post
Share on other sites
22 hours ago, Jonfliesgoats said:

Absolutely.  Looking at my first post, it reminds me of some of the dumb corporate posters that I occasionally see defacing our walls ("2+2=5: Synergy!  It's up to you!").  What I am really driving it is how you manage to get real science and engineering feats accomplished without forcing new talent into the limitations of current group-think.  It's a problem I haven't managed to crack yet.

New ideas come up when the time is right. Most people are entangled in everyday-problems, they do not care about giant leaps of the species. I would say that a persons with time and ressources to support himself without having to care about the every-day problems has the best chance to come upon a new idea. But that isn't necessarily a weirdo, that person must be aware of his exceptional situation. A pampered weirdo will likely just stay a lazybone.

Maybe i'm writing just nonsense ...

Link to post
Share on other sites

Just need more of these guys....

It Couldn’t Be Done

Somebody said that it couldn’t be done,
    But, he with a chuckle replied
That "maybe it couldn’t," but he would be one
    Who wouldn’t say so till he’d tried.
So he buckled right in with the trace of a grin
    On his face. If he worried he hid it.
He started to sing as he tackled the thing
    That couldn’t be done, and he did it.

Somebody scoffed: "Oh, you’ll never do that;
    At least no one has done it";
But he took off his coat and he took off his hat,
    And the first thing we knew he’d begun it.
With a lift of his chin and a bit of a grin,
    Without any doubting or quiddit,
He started to sing as he tackled the thing
    That couldn’t be done, and he did it.

There are thousands to tell you it cannot be done,
    There are thousands to prophesy failure;
There are thousands to point out to you one by one,
    The dangers that wait to assail you.
But just buckle it in with a bit of a grin,
    Just take off your coat and go to it;
Just start to sing as you tackle the thing
    That "couldn’t be done," and you’ll do it.

                                                    -Edgar Albert Guest

Link to post
Share on other sites

Interesting thoughts.  I like the relationship between free time and innovation, so perhaps we have to tolerate self-important lazybones as a byproduct of fostering innovation?

Again, figuring out how much one needs to crack the whip v. encourage novel thinking seems difficult.  I find myself always making corrections one way or the other.

Link to post
Share on other sites

people call me lazy. but i solved half a dozen problems before anyone else got out of bed today.

then again you have to be able to solve problems and not starve to death. im no good at that last part.

Edited by Nuke
Link to post
Share on other sites
This thread is quite old. Please consider starting a new thread rather than reviving this one.

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

×
×
  • Create New...