How to Keep the Creative Juices Flowing After Summer Vacation

Science confirms that "aha!" moments are more likely to occur in new settings since the brain is processing new sets of information, mixing it with established knowledge in a process essential to creativity.

Hopefully you took a summer vacation. Nothing recharges your batteries better and helps you get a new perspective on your life and work. If you did, no doubt you had a moment or two of clarity, especially if you found yourself away from home and in unfamiliar surroundings. Science has confirmed that those "aha!" moments are more likely to occur in new settings since the brain is processing new sets of information, mixing it with established knowledge in a process essential to what we call "creativity".

Forbes contributor Carmine Gallo recommends several ways that employees and business leaders can provide a more creative work environment. 

Schedule a "mini brain vacation" by extending the length of a business trip by a day to see the local (and unfamiliar) sights, or add a vacation day to a three-day weekend in order to get out of town.

Adopt a "Results Only Work Environment" (ROWE) that measure success according to what gets done rather than by how many hours are logged at the office. This frees employees to do their work in novel surroundings, increasing the likelihood of finding creative solutions.

Loosening the travel budget can pay dividends if it exposes employees to new situations, i.e. beyond the walls of an inner-city conference center.

Finally, keep off-site schedules bearable. Inspiration happens when we allow our minds to wander and find new connections. A day out of the office shouldn't be planned minute-by-minute from 8 a.m. until 11 p.m.

In his Big Think interview, Samsung's head of strategic marketing David Steel explains how empowering (design) employees is one of the company's essential business strategies:

Read more at Forbes

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Scientists study tattooed corpses, find pigment in lymph nodes

It turns out, that tattoo ink can travel throughout your body and settle in lymph nodes.

17th August 1973: An American tattoo artist working on a client's shoulder. (Photo by F. Roy Kemp/BIPs/Getty Images)

In the slightly macabre experiment to find out where tattoo ink travels to in the body, French and German researchers recently used synchrotron X-ray fluorescence in four "inked" human cadavers — as well as one without. The results of their 2017 study? Some of the tattoo ink apparently settled in lymph nodes.

Image from the study.

As the authors explain in the study — they hail from Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility, and the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment — it would have been unethical to test this on live animals since those creatures would not be able to give permission to be tattooed.

Because of the prevalence of tattoos these days, the researchers wanted to find out if the ink could be harmful in some way.

"The increasing prevalence of tattoos provoked safety concerns with respect to particle distribution and effects inside the human body," they write.

It works like this: Since lymph nodes filter lymph, which is the fluid that carries white blood cells throughout the body in an effort to fight infections that are encountered, that is where some of the ink particles collect.

Image by authors of the study.

Titanium dioxide appears to be the thing that travels. It's a white tattoo ink pigment that's mixed with other colors all the time to control shades.

The study's authors will keep working on this in the meantime.

“In future experiments we will also look into the pigment and heavy metal burden of other, more distant internal organs and tissues in order to track any possible bio-distribution of tattoo ink ingredients throughout the body. The outcome of these investigations not only will be helpful in the assessment of the health risks associated with tattooing but also in the judgment of other exposures such as, e.g., the entrance of TiO2 nanoparticles present in cosmetics at the site of damaged skin."

Photo by Alina Grubnyak on Unsplash
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