Friday, January 21, 2011

Nature Observations, Learning, and Observation

Someone passed along this quote from Alexander Graham Bell's daughter:

"My father was a creature of the woods and the water and the darkness."

Interesting, especially considering the content of
the Jean-Claude Boisset presentation last night at NDNU's Distinguished Speaker Series. He spoke of the time he spent with nature, his adolescent desire for more worldly pursuits, and his grandmother's admonition that he needed to be better at observing nature. According to his speech, her advice went "40,000 miles over [his] head at the time," but settled close enough that it informed his approach to both the science and the business of wine making.

Another engineer/inventor, who got his inspiration for optical fibers also from studying the eyes of animals, said of himself,

I wasn't an exceptional student at school, and I think this actually helped me to become more creative. I couldn't rely on ‘textbook' approaches, so was poised (or forced) to invent my own ways of doing things. ...I think that my creativity has benefited hugely from working in diverse fields, and from the cross-fertilisation that enables. It seems that the more different pictures you have of this world, the better. For example, I was awarded the Marconi Prize in 2001 for my insights about optical fibres for telecommunication. Surprisingly, this work was inspired not from research in engineering physics, but from my investigations of animal eyes!"

The same inventor is now investigating autistic savants because he believes that anyone is capable of achieving mental feats, if only our "mindsets" would get out of the way... Here is an interesting article by him on this.

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