Want to Make a Difference in the World? Think Small
Ambition can work against you by leading you to set unrealistic and overwhelming goals. Want to make a difference in the world? Think small. It’s much less complicated.
Ambition can work against you by leading you to set unrealistic and overwhelming goals. Want to make a difference in the world? Think small. It’s much less complicated, you’ll have easier access to the data that you’ll need. Most importantly, you will preserve one of your most precious resources: optimism.
Having the will to attack an issue at its root—from launching a socially conscious business to demanding more green spaces in your neighborhood—requires energy and enthusiasm to see the project through. By being less ambitious in your plans you’re more likely to stick with them and be successful.
Besides, when you first developed your problem-solving skills you were small—a child. Stephen Dubner, the co-author, with economist Steven Levitt, of Freakonomics and Think Like a Freak, wants you to go back to that way of thinking:
One of the most powerful pieces of thinking like a child that we argue is thinking small. So I realize that this runs exactly counter to the philosophy of the arena in which I’m appearing which is thinking big, Big Think, but our argument is this. Big problems are by their nature really hard to solve for a variety of reasons. One is they’re large and therefore they include a lot of people and therefore they include a lot of crossed and often mangled and perverse incentives. But also a big problem – when you think about a big problem like education reform. You’re dealing with an institution or set of institutions that have gotten to where they’ve gotten to this many, many years of calcification and also accidents of history. What I mean by that is things have gotten the way they’ve gotten because of a lot of things a few people did many, many years ago and traditions were carried on.
Want to break those traditions and build something new and forward-thinking? Then curb your ambition. Start to look at the world again with the eyes of a child.
Here's the science of black holes, from supermassive monsters to ones the size of ping-pong balls.
- There's more than one way to make a black hole, says NASA's Michelle Thaller. They're not always formed from dead stars. For example, there are teeny tiny black holes all around us, the result of high-energy cosmic rays slamming into our atmosphere with enough force to cram matter together so densely that no light can escape.
- CERN is trying to create artificial black holes right now, but don't worry, it's not dangerous. Scientists there are attempting to smash two particles together with such intensity that it creates a black hole that would live for just a millionth of a second.
- Thaller uses a brilliant analogy involving a rubber sheet, a marble, and an elephant to explain why different black holes have varying densities. Watch and learn!
- Bonus fact: If the Earth became a black hole, it would be crushed to the size of a ping-pong ball.
Protected animals are feared to be headed for the black market.
In a breakthrough for nuclear fusion research, scientists at China's Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST) reactor have produced temperatures necessary for nuclear fusion on Earth.
- The EAST reactor was able to heat hydrogen to temperatures exceeding 100 million degrees Celsius.
- Nuclear fusion could someday provide the planet with a virtually limitless supply of clean energy.
- Still, scientists have many other obstacles to pass before fusion technology becomes a viable energy source.
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