“Blink” Creativity

Source: Fast Company, Nov 2014

In the 1990s, cognitive scientists John Kounios and Mark Beeman started studying the insightful moment when you’re suddenly able to see things differently, also known as the “aha!” or eureka moment.

… right before the problem is presented, activity in the visual part of an analytical person’s brain would amp up to take in as much information as possible. On the other hand, the visual cortex would shut down for those who don’t solve problems in a methodical way, which allows them to block out the environment, look inward, and “find and retrieve subconscious ideas,” says Kounios.

The Visual Paradox

While more creative people shut down visual information before their “aha!” moment, these people tend to take in more visuals compared to others on a daily basis. Kounios says when these people walk down the street, they tend to study others, take in information, and may seem very scattered about their own agenda. However, the information they take in and synthesis may be a product of unconscious processing for years before ideas emerge.

Those who are more analytical are more focused with their attention. When they walk down the street, they are focused on where they’re going and how they’re going to get there. They tend not to stray into different areas of thoughts.

What you can do is be receptive and expose yourself to a lot of insight triggers. Also, positive moods tend to promote eureka moments. On the contrary, anxiety will promote analytical thoughts.

Lastly, Kounios advises to people who want epiphanies to get more sleep.

Identifying Familial Relationships

Source: Fast Company, Nov 2014

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UK Academic Results (GCSEs) are More Nature than Nurture

Source: The Spectator/UK, Jul 2013

In a representative twin sample of 11,117 16-year-olds, heritability was substantial for GCSE performance for compulsory core subjects (58%) as well as for each of them individually: English (52%), Mathematics (55%) and Science (58%). In contrast, the overall effects of shared environment, which includes all family and school influences shared by members of twin pairs growing up in the same family and attending the same school, accounts for about 36% of the variance of mean GCSE scores.

much more of the variance of GCSE scores can be attributed to genetics than to school or family environment.

Rather than a passive model of schooling as instruction (instruere, ‘to build in’), we propose an active model of education (educare, ‘to bring out’) in which children create their own educational experiences in part on the basis of their genetic propensities, which supports the trend towards personalised learning.

Asians Get the “Jewish” Treatment from the Ivy League

Source: USA Today, Nov 2014

the Ivy League now, by all accounts, has quotas for Asian students. They are seen as people who study too hard, boring grinds who aren’t much fun — and, of course, their parents aren’t as rich and connected. And though the numbers of highly qualified Asian applicants have grown dramatically, the number of Asians admitted stays pretty much the same every year.

Now the Asian students are suing. In a lawsuit against Harvard, they are claiming that Harvard demands higher qualifications from Asian students than from others, and that it uses “racial classifications to engage in the same brand of invidious discrimination against Asian Americans that it formerly used to limit the number of Jewish students in its student body.”

Related Resource: NYTimes, Nov 2014

To get into the top schools, they need SAT scores that are about 140 points higher than those of their white peers.

In 2008, over half of all applicants to Harvard with exceptionally high SAT scores were Asian, yet they made up only 17 percent of the entering class (now 20 percent). Asians are the fastest-growing racial group in America, but their proportion of Harvard undergraduates has been flat for two decades.

The Most Important Thing(s) Learned at MIT – Resilience, Resourcefulness & Initiative

Source: MIT Admissions Blog, Nov 2014


Google Moonshot – Zero Million Research Problem

Source: Fortune, Nov 2014

 To succeed at a moonshot, you need curiosity, impulse, and a problem that no one seems to be investing in.

a crazy enough idea that no one was working on it. To Page, that was a classic “zero million dollar” research problem. “You find no one working on it,” he said. “And you know that zero million dollars are going into that problem.”

Imagination Precedes Ambition

Source: Fortune, Nov 2014

The Google CEO is the kind of guy who thinks the improbable is a given and the seemingly impossible is likely. He’s not one or two steps ahead of his engineers and research scientists; he often seems to inhabit an alternate universe, where the future has already happened. … “He wanted to make sure there was a moon shot after the moon shot,” says Astro Teller, who heads Google X. “Reminding us that his ambitions are this high,” Teller says, raising his hand well above his head, “helps people aspire to more.”

Page says his vision for Google is different: “We’d like to have a bigger impact on the world by doing more things.”

Page wants Google to keep attracting the world’s best talent so that he can build an entirely new kind of company—one that can stay at the top of its game not for a decade or two, but perhaps for generations. “It’s what’s continuing to drive me,” he says.

In an hourlong conversation he volunteers that he is “super-excited” about this and “really excited” about that and “very excited” about something else nearly two dozen times.

Page says it’s also part of how he manages the company’s armies of alpha scientists. “Deep knowledge from your manager goes a long way toward motivating you,” Page says. “And I have a pretty good capability for that.”

Page looks at Google’s projects as a portfolio, a “bucket of investments.” Some are short-term, others are medium or long-term bets. He says he is fairly certain some will pay off. And while the investments are sizable, they are also gradual. “By the time you know you want to put a significant amount of money into something, you’re pretty sure you’re going to make money from it,” says Page. “It’s not that the risk is so high.” To the most ambitious CEO on the planet, clearly the bigger risk is in not trying to conjure the future.