How Einstein Thought: Fostering Combinatorial Creativity and Unconscious Connections

How Einstein Thought: Fostering Combinatorial Creativity and Unconscious Connections

“Combinatory play seems to be the essential feature in productive thought.”

For as long as I can remember – and certainly long before I had the term for it – I’ve believed that creativity is combinatorial: Alive and awake to the world, we amass a collection of cross-disciplinary building blocks – knowledge, memories, bits of information, sparks of inspiration, and other existing ideas – that we then combine and recombine, mostly unconsciously, into something “new.” From this vast and cross-disciplinary mental pool of resources beckons the infrastructure of what we call our “own” “original” ideas. The notion, of course, is not new – some of history’s greatest minds across art, science, poetry, and cinema have articulated it, directly or indirectly, in one form or another: Arthur Koestler’s famous theory of “bisociation” explained creativity through the combination of elements that don’t ordinarily belong together; graphic designer Paula Scher likens creativity to a slot machine that aligns the seemingly random jumble of stuff in our heads into a suddenly miraculous combination; T. S. Eliot believed that the poet’s mind incubates fragmentary thoughts into beautiful ideas; the great Stephen Jay Gould maintained that connecting the seemingly unconnected is the secret of genius; Gutenberg’s invention of the printing press embodied this combinatorial creativity; even what we call “intuition” is based on the unconscious application of this very mental faculty. Read more of this post

Feike Sijbesma, chief of Dutch nutrition and chemicals DSM, wants to transform global manufacturing


August 18, 2013 2:20 pm

Feike Sijbesma, chief of DSM

By Matt Steinglass


For several months now, Feike Sijbesma has been doggedly promoting an idiosyncratic vision for transforming global capitalism.

The head of DSM, the Dutch nutrition and chemicals group, is one of the chemical industry’s strongest proponents of shifting from fossil fuels to processes that use biological materials, such as enzymes produced by algae. All manufacturing should be in the process of becoming 100 per cent renewable, he says. Furthermore, Mr Sijbesma thinks companies around the world should negotiate international metrics – similar to international accounting standards – for assessing their impact on the environment and on society. And those whose impact is more detrimental should pay more tax. He has aired this idea in public and more privately with other industrial leaders and leading thinkers at the World Economic Forum in Davos. With annual revenues of €9bn, his company is a heavyweight in nutrition – it is the world’s largest vitamins maker, among other things – but a small player in the chemicals industry compared with petrochemical titans such as DuPont and BASF. Read more of this post

What If What You ’Survived’ Wasn’t Cancer?

What If What You ’Survived’ Wasn’t Cancer?

You’re feeling fine when you go for your annual physical. But your mammogram looks a little funny, or your PSA test is a little high, or you get a CT lung scan and a nodule shows up. You get a biopsy, and the doctor delivers the bad news: You have cancer. Because you don’t want to die, you agree to be sliced up and irradiated. Then, fortunately, you’re pronounced a “cancer survivor.” You’re glad they caught it early.

But maybe you went through all that pain for nothing.

For decades, the reigning theory has been that the earlier a cancer is spotted and treated, the less likely it is to be lethal, because it won’t have time to grow and spread. Yet this theory infers causality from correlation. It implicitly assumes that cancer is cancer is cancer, even though we now know that even in the same part of the body, cancer is many different diseases — some aggressive, some not. Perhaps people survive early-stage cancers not because they’re treated in time, but because their disease never would have become life-threatening at all. Read more of this post

Singapore: Man with 8cm gash waited 7 hours in vain at hospital only to faint from blood loss

17-08-2013, 05:39 PM

Man with 8cm gash waited 7 hours in vain at A&E only to faint from blood loss !
Warning, viewer discretion is advised. Pictures are graphic.
STOMPer Isaac says his friend waited seven hours in vain at Changi General Hospital for a doctors to stitch up an 8cm gash on his arm he sustained at work.
His friend’s father eventually decided to relocate him to Mt Alvernia Hospital for treatment, by which time he had passed out from blood loss.
The STOMPer wrote:
“My friend, Lim, in his thirties, suffered a workplace-related accident on Aug 7, at around 11.30am.
“He had fallen down and his right forearm sustained a gash of approximately 8cm length due to a cut from a steel bar.
“His co-workers immediately rushed him to the CGH and they arrived at the Accidents & Emergency department at around noon.
“The staff nurses were quick to administer basic wound dressing and bandage to his wounds, and also an intravenous drip was also given to him.
“Lim’s father also arrived at the hospital at 2pm that day.
“However, even at 3pm, they were told by nurses that doctor was unavailable.
“Every time they asked for a doctor, the nurses would reply the doctor will ‘attend to them in half an hour’.
“To their horror, the doctor still hadn’t come and performed the stitching operation even at 5pm, and the nurses could only ‘top up’ the bandages when the blood seeped through the dressing.
“It was only at 7pm, when Lim said he was feeling faint and going to pass out, that a doctor finally came.
“To their shock, the doctor said there were still four patients waiting in line, and that Lim would have to wait until midnight before he could perform the operation on him.
“Worse still, the doctor even said that he might have to wait until the next morning.
“Upon hearing this, the Lims wanted an immediate transfer to another hospital.
“Much to their chagrin, they were told that ambulances were also unavailable.
“While having to deal with tough luck, the father managed to get his son transferred to Alvernia Hospital, at MacRitchie using his personal vehicle.
“The father was appalled by the doctor’s attitude.
“He said the doctor even shooed them away when he requested to have an immediate transfer.
“He said his son went unconscious as soon as they arrived at Alvernia Hospital, where he finally received the long awaited stitching operation by another surgeon. He received between 15 to 20 stitches.
“The father did receive a ‘concerned’ telephone call from a CGH officer on Aug 16.
“The father reprimanded the hospital staff for their behavior and for having insufficient medical personnel on duty as well as equipment such as ambulances.
“He said the Ministry of Health should look into this matter and seek to improve our hospital’s standards, before someone’s life is lost.”

Love Your Job? Thank Your Country

Love Your Job? Thank Your Country

It is widely assumed that people in economically “advanced” countries do not differ significantly in how satisfied they are with their jobs. Because they are about equally productive, the reasoning is, they must produce things the same way, and so their work experience must be the same, too. In fact, there are striking differences in job satisfaction within the West. The U.K., with very low wages relative to the country’s wealth, reports a pretty decent level of job satisfaction. Yet Germany, with its fairly high wages relative to wealth, reports an undistinguished level of job satisfaction — below Italy and Spain.  Read more of this post

Innovation drives growth for exporters to emerging economies

August 19, 2013 12:03 am

Innovation drives growth for exporters to emerging economies

By Mark Wembridge

In the battle to attract customers in emerging markets and compete with lower-cost economies, British manufacturers have discovered that brains trump brawn. Unable to compete with commoditised goods churned out in cut-price countries, new research shows that UK manufacturers are increasingly targeting innovative niche products which can be exported to emerging economies. According to a study published on Monday by the EEF manufacturers’ association, 71 per cent of British businesses polled said they were planning to use innovative ideas and services to bolster their revenues – up from 54 per cent three years ago. Read more of this post

Wary Investors Turn to Lie Pros

December 29, 2010

Wary Investors Turn to Lie Pros

Deception Detectors Find a New Niche


When screening a fund manager, investors like to see experience and a consistent record or returns. Elizabeth Prial, however, looks for dilated pupils and uneven breathing. Ms. Prial, a psychologist and former Federal Bureau of Investigation agent, has spent most of her career looking for lies in the statements of mafia hitmen and terrorists. Now, she is on the hunt for the next Bernard Madoff, selling her deception-detection skills to institutional investors and others with large pools of money who want to know if prospective fund managers are telling the truth. “It’s usually very clear,” she said. “I’m 90% confident in most of the things that I can see.” Amid the rush to fortify the nation’s still-rickety regulations in the wake of the financial crisis, affluent investors are turning to behavioral specialists, looking to find things in faces and phrases that may not be revealed in financial statements. Read more of this post

%d bloggers like this: