Sleepy or Drunk? You're Ready to Problem Solve!

Grogginess is a virtue when it comes to finding creative solutions to tricky problems. Lack of concentration frees your mind to create new associations that may yield an important new insight.

What's the Latest Development?

In a scientific study, college students were asked to solve a brain teaser early in the morning and late at night to measure problem solving abilities relative to alertness levels. Prior to answering the riddle, most students self-identified as night owls, implying they would be better equipped to answer the question in the evening when they were more alert. "A man has married 20 women in a small town. All of the women are still alive and none of them are divorced. The man has broken no laws. Who is the man?" Answer: a priest. 

What's the Big Idea?

To the researchers' surprise, more students solved the riddle when they were still half asleep at 9 AM than in the evening session. Similar results have been found with alcohol, i.e. that intoxicated people can solve creative problems better than sober ones. The moral of the story is that concentration does not come without its down side. While an alert and sober person may solve an algebra equation faster, their singular focus keeps them from considering information not directly relevant to a problem, missing out on creative solutions.

Photo credit:

Big Think
Sponsored by Lumina Foundation

Upvote/downvote each of the videos below!

As you vote, keep in mind that we are looking for a winner with the most engaging social venture pitch - an idea you would want to invest in.

Keep reading Show less

7 fascinating UNESCO World Heritage Sites

Here are 7 often-overlooked World Heritage Sites, each with its own history.

Photo by Raunaq Patel on Unsplash
Culture & Religion
  • UNESCO World Heritage Sites are locations of high value to humanity, either for their cultural, historical, or natural significance.
  • Some are even designated as World Heritage Sites because humans don't go there at all, while others have felt the effects of too much human influence.
  • These 7 UNESCO World Heritage Sites each represent an overlooked or at-risk facet of humanity's collective cultural heritage.
Keep reading Show less

Why the number 137 is one of the greatest mysteries in physics

Famous physicists like Richard Feynman think 137 holds the answers to the Universe.

Surprising Science
  • The fine structure constant has mystified scientists since the 1800s.
  • The number 1/137 might hold the clues to the Grand Unified Theory.
  • Relativity, electromagnetism and quantum mechanics are unified by the number.
Keep reading Show less

Scientists discover how to trap mysterious dark matter

A new method promises to capture an elusive dark world particle.

Surprising Science
  • Scientists working on the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) devised a method for trapping dark matter particles.
  • Dark matter is estimated to take up 26.8% of all matter in the Universe.
  • The researchers will be able to try their approach in 2021, when the LHC goes back online.
Keep reading Show less