Flashes that re­sulted in great achieve­ments

Alive - - Contents - by T. Ra­jagopalan

Be­lieve it or not, in­tu­ition is the high­est form of


Be­hind ev­ery stu­pen­dous in­ven­tion or dis­cov­ery there will doubt­less be saga of un­remit­ting labour. World’s great in­ven­tor Thomas Alva Edi­son, who has over 1200 in­ven­tions to his credit, fa­mously said that be­hind ev­ery in­ven­tion there was 99 per cent per­spi­ra­tion and only 1 per cent in­spi­ra­tion.

We all know how the Curies had dis­cov­ered ra­dium through their un­flinch­ing and de­voted work spread over a long pe­riod. But th­ese are also caused through the mind of the in­ven­tor. One should bear in mind that the flashes oc­cour as a cu­mu­la­tive thought process that must have taken place for long.

Henry Ford, who of­ten con­ceived marvel­lous ideas while de­sign­ing his cars in a mat­ter of mo­ments, said with a smile when asked about it: “Prob­a­bly, the quin­tes­sence of past ex­pe­ri­ence and knowl­edge stored up for sud­denly get re­leased which we call flash.”

Few decades ago, a young gen­eral prac­ti­tioner was work­ing on a lec­ture he was to de­liver on the fol­low­ing day on the sub­ject of di­a­betes browsed all the writ­ings by renowned physi­cians un­til his mind was in a whirl with the plethora of the­o­ries ad­vanced by th­ese sci­en­tists.

Ex­hausted phys­i­cally and men­tally he re­tired to bed and soon fell asleep, his brain heav­ily laden with those thoughts. At 2 o’clock, long past mid­night, he sud­denly woke up and scrib­bled in his note book: ‘Tie

up the pan­cre­atic ducts of dogs. Wait for six to eight hours for de­gen­er­a­tion. Re­move the residue and ex­tracts.’ Then he went straight to bed and slept soundly.

This per­son was Dr. Grant Bent­ing, a young Cana­dian sur­geon. Those brief notes he scrib­bled in half sleep led to the epochal dis­cov­ery of ‘in­sulin’ which has been sav­ing mil­lions of hu­man lives since then. His con­scious mind had sought the an­swer to one of medicine’s per­plex­ing prob­lems, but his sub­lim­i­nal mind com­pleted the job for him.

Descartes, the great French math­e­ma­ti­cian and philoso­pher, had claimed that his mu­nif­i­cent dis­cov­er­ies had come to him while he lay in his bed in the small hours of the morn­ings go to­tally re­laxed. Said rightly An­drew Mel­lon, the Amer­i­can fi­nancier and phi­lan­thropist: ‘In leisure there is luck.’

Eu­gene Berth­elot, founder of syn­thetic chem­istry said that his key ex­per­i­ments surged into his mind out of the blue.

Ideas from nowhere

The renowned atomic sci­en­tist Kekule, who pro­pounded the fa­mous “Kekule the­ory of Atom”, per­ceived the atoms danc­ing in mid-air and so con­ceived his the­ory of Atomic Group­ings while trav­el­ling on the up­per deck of a bus in Lon­don.

Even Sir Isaac New­ton usu­ally ob­tained his re­sults be­fore he could prove it; in­deed one of his mon­u­men­tal dis­cov­er­ies (on the roots of equa­tion) was proved only a cou­ple of cen­turies af­ter­wards.

The would-fa­mous mu­si­cal ge­nius Mozart got the idea for the

melody of the “magic flute” quin­tet while he played his bil­liards.

The other mu­si­cal great Ber­lioz found him­self hum­ming a mu­si­cal phrase which he had long been seek­ing in vain as he rose from a deep dive while bathing in the River Tiber. This tune had cap­tured the mu­si­cal world and it be­came a rage with all mu­sic lovers.

Com­poser An­ton Bruck­ner, when asked how he found a cer­tain mo­tif for his tit­il­lat­ing ninth sym­phony, said, “I went for a walk. When I was hun­gry I sat down by a lit­tle brook and un­wrapped the cheese packet. Just as I opened the greasy pa­per the tune popped into my mind.”

Idle mind at work

The Tel­ugu film lyri­cist of re­pute the late Ve­turi Sun­dararama Murty, while re­cu­per­at­ing from an ail­ment in the Breach Candy hos­pi­tal in Mum­bai, saw a Nightin­gale-like nurse be­stow­ing her ten­der and kind care on the pa­tients with in­fec­tious smile and at once wrote a song: “Dorukuna ito­vanti seva” (can any­one get such self­less ser­vice?) for the all time hit film Sankarabaranam.

This be­came peer­less lyric and the song is on ev­ery­one’s lips even to­day af­ter a lapse of three decades.

The uni­ver­sally ac­claimed French physi­cist An­drew Am­pere was strolling along a street when on notic­ing the taxi num­ber’s pe­cu­liar­ity an in­sight flit­ted across his fer­tile mind. Los­ing no time, he scrib­bled a se­ries of num­bers and sym­bols on a parked taxi cab with a piece of chalk he al­ways car­ried in his shirt pocket.

The sym­bols and num­bers hap­pened to be a great math­e­mat­i­cal for-

mula con­cern­ing elec­tric­ity. It’s said to be one of his best in­ven­tions.

“With­out re­cep­tiv­ity there can be no in­sight”, said Al­dous Hux­ley, “Read­ing es­pe­cially emo­tional lit­er­a­ture may pro­duce a pro­pi­tious mood.”

On the eve of im­por­tant mil­i­tary en­gaga­ments, Napoleon di­verted his con­scious mind by play­ing soli­taire. Pre­sum­ably, the card game left his sub­con­scious mind free to work out the plans to ac­com­plish his task

Rus­sian nov­el­ist Fy­dor Dos­to­evski in­sisted that he did his finest works af­ter he had heated ar­gu­ment with his spouse.

Sug­ges­tive power

The French nov­el­ist Alexan­dre Du­mas talked to his imag­i­nary char­ac­ters all alone that gave him fur­ther ideas to sketch his fac­ti­tious char­ac­ters.

James Watt saw how the wastage of heat in a steam en­gine could be pre­vented by con­dens­ing steam, in a flash of in­spi­ra­tion while walk­ing to play his golf.

Sound sleep yielded re­mark­able re­sults to Sir Wal­ter Scott. This great nov­el­ist used to so­lil­o­quies: “Never mind. I shall have the plot of my work at 7 o'clock in the morn­ing.”And he did have it as stated by him to him­self.

Van Gogh de­scribed how he had ter­ri­ble lu­cid­ity at mo­ments which was so glo­ri­ous. “In those mo­ments, I be­came hardly con­scious of my­self and my paint­ing came to be like pleas­ant dreams,” he said.

Ge­niuses de­scribe the cre­ativ­ity mo­ments in rap­tur­ous terms. Their spir­its soar and they some­time be­come obliv­i­ous of their sur­round­ings. Lord Ten­nyson de­scribed the ex­pe­ri­ences as a kind of walk­ing trance.

The pro­lific com­poser Haydn, with 104 sym­phonies and hun­dreds of com­po­si­tions to his credit, said: “When my work does not ad­vance, I re­tire into the or­a­tory with my­self and say an Ave: im­me­di­ately ideas come to me.”

Prac­ti­cally ev­ery­one has ex­pe­ri­enced cre­ative think­ing. You have weighed pros and cons and yet couldn’t pro­cure so­lu­tions. Later, the so­lu­tions cas­cades seem­ingly from nowhere.

Al­though the hu­man brain weighs only two and half pounds it re­calls and records to it 10,000 bits of in­for­ma­tion ev­ery sec­ond, nearly 20 bil­lion im­pulses dur­ing a life­span.

“The con­scious mind can re­call only about 10 per cent of th­ese data. The re­main­ing 90 per cent lies in the sub­con­scious that il­lu­mi­nates the con­scious­ness,” said the renowned psy­chol­o­gist Wil­liam James who re­garded in­tu­ition as the high­est form of cre­ativ­ity.

An­ton Bruck­ner.

James Watt

Alexan­dre Du­mas

Hec­tor Ber­lioz

Henry Ford with model T.

All time great com­poser Mozart.

Paint­ing of Isaac New­ton, 1689.

Thomas Alva Edi­son

Marie Curie, the most fa­mous fe­male sci­en­tist of all time.


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