Sunday, September 25, 2011

Scientific Breakthroughs (Quotes from Bellwether)

I wanted to share these wonderful quotes from Bellwether by Connie Willis. One relates to fads and the other two relate to scientific breakthroughs:
Why do only the awful things becomes fads? I thought. Eye-rolling and Barbie and bread pudding. Why never chocolate cheesecake or thinking for yourself? 
You can’t just order scientific breakthroughs. They happen when you look at something you’ve been working on for years and suddenly see a connection you never noticed before, or when you’re looking for something else altogether. Sometimes they even happen by accident. 
Scientific breakthroughs involve combining ideas no one thought to connect before, seeing connections nobody saw before. Chaotic systems create feedback loops that tend to randomize the elements of the system, displace them, shake them around so they’re next to elements they’ve never come in contact with before. Chaotic systems tend to increase in chaos, but not always. Sometimes they restabilize into a new level of order.

The last two quotes could easily apply to innovation in areas beyond science.

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