From bathtubs to falling apples, find out what really drives some of the iconic tales of “light bulb” moments in science.
A falling apple prompts physicist Isaac Newton to formulate his laws of gravity. Greek polymath Archimedes takes a bath and figures out how to calculate volume and density. These are iconic “light bulb” moments in the history of science. Or, as Archimedes reputedly said when insight struck, Eureka!
Today, the flash of insight is measurable using brain scans, which show a part of the right hemisphere lights up at that moment. While Anna Marie Roos, a historian of science at the University of Lincoln, advises us to take some “eureka moments” with a grain of salt, she thinks they do have much to say about the creative process.
.. people love them because it simplifies things and takes away all the hard slogging. It’s an analogy everybody understands. Eureka stories are a compression of decades and decades of work into one inspirational moment. It’s like a parable.
The chess problem – originally drawn by Sir Roger – has been devised to defeat an artificially intelligent (AI) computer but be solvable for humans. The Penrose Institute scientists are inviting readers to workout how white can win, or force a stalemate and then share their reasoning.
The team then hopes to scan the brains of people with the quickest times, or interesting Eureka moments, to see if the genesis of human ‘insight’ or ‘intuition’ can be spotted in mind.
.. “We are interested in seeing how the Eureka moments happen in people’s brains. For me it is an actual flash of light but it will be different for others.
.. “This chess position is designed to show the difference between artificial intelligence (AI) and human intelligence (HI) and the nature of human understanding.
“A human looking at it for a short while will ‘see’ what white must, and more particularly, must not do, and use very little energy to decide this.
“But, for a computer, the puzzle requires an enormous number of calculations, far too many for even today’s supercomputers.”