How to prime your mind to make creative leaps and new discoveries

MIT educator and physicist Alan Lightman knows how creative discoveries happen.

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  • Making big, new advances and solving old, intractable problems isn't magic. It takes preparation.
  • One way to know you're on the right track? You'll feel completely stuck, Lightman says.
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Surprising Science

Theoretical physicist Alan Lightman suggests that our universe is one of many possible variations, leaving physicists at a cosmological dead end. Lightman's latest book is The Accidental Universe: The World You Thought You Knew.

Surprising Science

Alan Lightman:  For centuries scientists and especially physicists have believed that we would be able to show why our universe is as it is as a necessary consequence of certain fundamental principles and laws.  Like finding – having a crossword puzzle with only one solution, the given certain very fundamental principles like the law of conservation of energy that there would be only one self-consistent universe allowed.  And that has been sort of the holy grail of physics and we have been pretty successful in showing such things as why snowflakes have six-sided symmetry, why raindrops are round, why the sky is blue as necessary consequences of a small number of physical principles.

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