December 20, 2012

Think Different. Think Creative.

Most of us regard creativity as something that involves aesthetic sensibility, art or a creative insight.

When we see a beautiful Chess combination or a piece of art, in that case, we wonder how someone can produce something so good from scratch. But that is a limited definition of creativity.

Think Different. Think Creative.
By Rucha Pujari

Creative thinking is both an attitude and a method of using information.
Firstly I would like to give you a problem, old one, but it makes the point very nicely. Nine dots are arranged as shown in the diagram. The problem is to link up these nine dots using only four straight lines which must be drawn without raising the pen from the paper.

At first it seems easy and various attempts are made to link up the dots. Then it is found that one always needs more than four. The problem seems impossible.
You might want to try yourself.

Okay so before I give you the answer I would like to tell you an interesting story I came across:

"Some time ago I received a call from a colleague. He was about to give a Student a zero for his answer to a physics question, while the student claimed a perfect score. The instructor & the student agreed to an impartial arbiter, and I was selected. I read the examination question: 


The student had answered, "Take the barometer to the top of the building, attach a long rope to it, lower it to the street, & then bring it up, measuring the length of the rope. The length of the rope is the height of the building." The student really had a strong case for full credit since he had really answered the question completely and correctly! On the other hand, if full credit were given, it could well contribute to a high grade in his physics course and to certify competence in physics, but the answer did not confirm this. 

I suggested that the student have another try. I gave the student six minutes to answer the question with the warning that the answer should show some knowledge of physics. At the end of five minutes, he had not written anything. I asked if he wished to give up, but he said he had many answers to this problem; he was just thinking of the best one. I excused myself for interrupting him and asked him to please go on. 

In the next minute, he dashed off his answer, which read: "Take the barometer to the top of the building and lean over the edge of the roof. Drop the barometer, timing its fall with a stopwatch. Then, using the formula x=0.5*a*t^^2, Calculate the height of the building." 

At this point, I asked my colleague if he would give up. He conceded, & gave the student almost full credit. While leaving my colleague’s office, I recalled that the student had said that he had many answers to the problem, so I asked him what they were. "Well," said the student, "there are many ways of getting the height of a tall building with the aid of a barometer. For example, you could take the barometer out on a sunny day and measure the height of the barometer, the length of its shadow, and the length of the shadow of the building, and by the use of simple proportion, determines the height of the building." 

"Fine," I said, "and others??”Yes," said the student, "there is a very basic measurement method you will like. In this method, you take the barometer and begin to walk up the stairs. As you climb the stairs, you mark off the length of the barometer along the wall. You then count the number of marks, and this will give you the height of the building in barometer units." 

“A very direct method, of course. If you want a more sophisticated method, you can tie the barometer to the end of a string, swing it as a pendulum, and determine the value of g at the street level and at the top of the building. From the difference between the two values of g, the height of the building, in principle, can be calculated." 

"On this same tact, you could take the barometer to the top of the building, attach a long rope to it, lower it to just above the street, and then swing it as a pendulum. You could then calculate the height of the building by the period of the precession". 

"Finally," he concluded, "there are many other ways of solving the problem. Probably the best," he said, "is to take the barometer to the basement and knock on the superintendent's door. When the superintendent answers, you speak to him as follows: 

"Mr. Superintendent, here is a fine barometer. If you will tell me the height of the building, I will give you this barometer." 

At this point, I asked the student if he really did not know the conventional answer to this question. He admitted that he did, but said that he was fed up with instructors trying to teach him how to think."

The student was Neils Bohr and the Arbiter – Ernst Rutherford
The most basic principle of creative thinking is that any particular way of looking at things is only one, from among many other possible ways.

Okay so back to the previous problem.

To get the answer you have to think “Out of the box”
The assumption here is that the straight lines must link up the dots and must not extend beyond the boundaries set by the other line of dots. If one breaks through this assumption and does go beyond the boundary then the problem is easily solved as shown below.

The Power of Human Brain:

Can you read this?   
fi yuo cna  
raed tihs, yuo hvae a sgtrane mnid too

Cna  yuo raed tihs? Olny 55 plepoe  
out of 100 can.  

i cdnuolt blveiee taht I cluod aulaclty uesdnatnrd waht  
I was rdanieg. The phaonmneal pweor of the hmuan mnid, aoccdrnig to a rscheearch, it dseno't mtaetr in waht oerdr the ltteres in a wrod  
are, t he olny iproamtnt tihng is taht the frsit and lsat ltteer be in the rghit  
pclae. The rset can be a taotl mses and you can sitll raed it whotuit a pboerlm.
Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe. Azanmig huh? yaeh and I awlyas tghuhot slpeling was ipmorantt!

Seriously, the power of human brain is beyond our imagination. Just imagine!!

Creativity and Chess:

“Chess, like any creative activity, can exist only through the combined efforts of those who have creative talent, and those who have the ability to organize their creative work”
Keeping an open mind is difficult in a game where so much depends on patterns and logic. Mikhail Tal is considered as one of the best creative players in the history of Chess.
Here is how he described a classic game contemplating a piece sacrifice:
“Ideas piled up one after another. This piece sacrifice works in one case. To another situation it proves quite useless. As a result my head became filled with completely chaotic pile of all sorts of moves. And as I was figuring out what to do I suddenly remembered a classic children’s couplet.
Oh what a difficult job it was
To drag out of marsh the Hippopotamus

I don’t know from what association the Hippopotamus got onto the chessboard, but although the spectators were convinced that I was continuing to study the position, I was trying to work out just how to drag a Hippopotamus out of the marsh?!
I remember how I thought about helicopters even rope ladders. After a lengthy consideration I admitted defeat as an engineer. And thought spitefully ‘Well let it drown.’ And suddenly the Hippopotamus disappeared, went out of chessboard as it had came in. And straight away the position did not appear so complicated. Now I somehow realize that it was not possible to calculate all the variation and that the piece sacrifice was by its very own nature purely intuitive. And since it promised a very interesting position I could not refrain from making it.
And the following day it was with pleasure that I read it in the paper How Mikhail Tal, after carefully thinking over the position for forty minutes made an accurately calculated piece sacrifice.”
It’s a charming example of Tal’s wits and more importantly an insight into his problem solving method.

Logical thinking moves only if there is a direction in which to move, creative thinking moves in order to generate a direction.

Food for Thought:
  • ·        Why is ‘abbreviated’ such a long word?
  • ·        Why is the time of day with the slowest traffic called rush hour?
  • ·        Why the man who invests all your money called broker?
  • ·        If flying is so safe, why do they call the airport, the terminal?
  • ·        If you were travelling at the speed of sound and you turned on your radio, would    you be able to hear it?
  • ·        Why is it called building, when it is already built?

Lateral Thinking - Edward de Bono
How life imitates Chess - Garry Kasparov