Newton’s Tree – The Apple Tree that Sparked an Epiphany

Apple trees have long been a part of human history, as one of the first cultivated trees, but a tree of the ‘Flower of Kent’ variety inspired one of the biggest scientific discoveries in centuries. The so called ‘gravity tree’ is located on the grounds of Woolsthorpe Manor, the birthplace of Sir Isaac Newton.

via Newton’s Tree – The Apple Tree that Sparked an Epiphany — The Treeographer

Mer om den kreativa individen…

Ytterligare tänkvärda aspekter kring den höggradigt kreativa individen förmedlat av Petra Agnroth.

Petra Agnroth

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Detta med att vara kreativ är både en gåva och en börda.

För min del innebär kreativiteten att jag är snabbtänkt och drivande samt gärna är den som både kommer med nya tankar och idéer samt gärna provar dem i  verkligheten. Ser också väldigt snabbt samband mellan saker som hänger ihop. Dock ser inte alla andra per automatik alltid exakt det samma som jag eller samtidigt som jag så i vissa lägen måste jag plocka fram min mer tålmodiga sida som jag lärt mig finns där 🙂

Läste en artikel på foretagande.se med 18 saker som är speciella för kreativa människor för länge sedan men i våras dök den upp igen i mitt Facebookflöde och många punkter stämmer delvis in på mig.

1. Tankeverksamheten saktar aldrig in. Den kreativas sinne drivs framförallt av en intensiv nyfikenhet och att försöka gå ned i tempo eller på något vis hitta en pausknapp…

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Leva och låta leva – eller den ädla konsten att ge och ta emot råd

Unsolicited advice

Det verkar som om ett av de mer populära “nyorden” i den svenska debatten är mansplaining, ett begrepp definierat av Wikipedia som ”att förklara något för någon, oftast en man till kvinna, på ett sätt som uppfattas som nedlåtande eller ringaktande”.

Även om begreppet huvudsakligen används i en feministisk kontext beskrivande en manlig härskarteknik, tror jag att fenomenet (men i ett mindre nedtryckande format) är mer universellt och inte könsspecifikt.

Som en del av den mänskliga kreativa kraften betraktar vi (både män och kvinnor) situationer med sikte på förbättring. Utan denna förmåga skulle vi förmodligen fortfarande leva som jägare och samlare på savannen.

Som de sociala varelser vi är vill vi också dela med oss av våra iakttagelser och åsikter till vår omgivning. När vi ser någon göra något på ett sätt som vi tycker är felaktigt, eller i alla fall inte det mest effektiva, ger vi därför gärna goda råd, ibland ignorerande det faktum att personen i fråga kan vara både skickligare och mer erfaren än vad vi själva är, samt att det finns många vägar som leder till samma mål.

Att ge råd är nödvändigt när vi uppfostrar våra barn. Medan det lilla barnet (åtminstone ibland) kan acceptera vad vi säger, blir situationen annorlunda då barnet växer upp till en rebellisk tonåring. Att hitta sina egna vägar och göra sina egna misstag är en nödvändig del av att växa upp. Den kloka föräldern väljer därför sina strider och försöker istället skapa en trygg omgivning i vilken deras unga kan testa sina egna vingar.

Önskan att gå sin egen väg genom hela livet är särskilt stark bland höggradigt kreativa individer, men vi bär alla denna längtan inom oss. De flesta av oss vill därför helst göra saker på vårt eget sätt och bara ta emot andras råd när vi själva ber om dem. Jag tror att detta gäller lika för både män och kvinnor. Men däremot tror jag att det finns (och ursäkta att jag nu generaliserar) en viktig könsskillnad i hur vi hanterar råd.

En man arbetar ofta ensam i det tysta tills han fastnar. Och när han så småningom berättar för andra om sitt problem så gör han det med en, ibland outtalad, önskan att få den andra människans syn på hur man skulle kunna hitta en lösning.

När å andra sidan en kvinna berättar om ett problem så söker hon kanske råd, men om hon inte specifikt frågat efter det, så kan hon lika gärna bara vilja att någon lyssnar och bekräftar hennes känslor. Detta ger självförtroende och efteråt återgår hon till problemet och löser det på egen hand.

Om den andra personen (i detta fall ofta en man) då istället för att lyssna tolkar situationen som ett rop på hjälp och börjar ge råd, kan han bli anklagad för att ”inte lyssna” och ”alltid vilja fixa saker”. I slutändan kan båda personerna känna sig sårade. Denna könsskillnad kan eventuellt också spela en roll i mansplaining-fenomenet.

Jag tror att de flesta av oss (män såväl som kvinnor) i våra inre fortfarande bär med oss den upproriska tonåringen som vill göra saker på sitt eget sätt. Detta hjälper oss att leva, växa, lära och utvecklas.

Att få oönskade ”goda” råd är därför inte något vi vanligtvis uppskattar, såvida vi inte är i en situation då vi verkligen fastnat i ett problem. En normal reaktion på det oönskade rådet kan då istället vara att göra det rakt motsatta, trots att vi innerst inne inser att det är en barnslig reaktion.

I våra sätt att handskas med råd (att ge eller att ta emot) behöver vi därför vara känsligare och nu ska jag därför ge mitt eget (kanske oönskade) råd i frågan.

När vi ser utrymme för förbättringar i hur en annan person hanterar något, bör vi undvika att oombedda ge råd. I stället kan vi möjligen erbjuda råd. Genom att helt enkelt säga “Jag ser att du håller på med något spännande. Om du vill bolla idéer med mig så är jag här” och därefter vara tyst. Detta ger den andra personen ett alternativ och öppnar dörren för en dialog på den andres villkor.

Presenterat på detta sätt skulle de flesta personer utnyttja möjligheten att diskutera om problemet verkligen är utmanande. Om situationen däremot är under kontroll blir inte någons känslor lidande.

När du får ett oombett råd från någon annan, kan du istället för att ta åt dig och känna dig nedtryckt ta till en ”Zen-strategi” och helt enkelt och ärligt säga ”Tack så mycket för ditt råd. Jag värdesätter det och jag kommer att noggrant överväga vad du sagt”. Detta kommer sannolikt att avsluta konversationen och du förblir fri och obunden att hantera situationen helt efter eget huvud vare sig du väljer att följa rådet eller inte.

Den andra personen känner sig också respekterad och tappar i slutändan inte ansiktet om du väljer att ignorera vad som sagts. Om du istället skulle börja argumentera eller betacka dig för andras råd, så kan ni båda lätt hamna i motsatta defensiva positioner med risk för ett onödigt gräl.

I det verkliga livet är allt detta lättare sagt än gjort, och gång efter gång befinner vi oss i situationer där tungan är snabbare än tanken. Men att vara medveten om vad som händer är ett viktigt steg mot att förbättra samspelet med sin omgivning.

Till slut, och med risk att (igen) vara ute på tunn is, så kan jag inte motstå frestelsen att dela den väldigt talande videon It’s not about the nail”.

united-kingdom-flag-1- This blog post in English

Live and let live – or the noble art of giving and receiving advice

Unsolicited advice

It seems that one of the more fashionable “new words”, at least in the Swedish debate, is mansplaining. Believed to be originating in 2008, Wikipedia defines it as “to explain something to someone, characteristically by a man to woman, in a manner regarded as condescending or patronizing“.

While mainly being used in a feminist context describing a male master suppression technique, I believe the phenomenon, although most often in a less suppressive format, is more universal and not gender-specific.

As part of the human creative drive, we (men and women alike) look at situations with the view of improvement. Without this drive, we would probably still be hunting zebras and gathering roots at the savannah.

The social beings we are, we also want to communicate our views to those around us. When we see someone doing something in a way we feel is either wrong, or at least not the most effective, we therefore tend to tell the other person, sometimes ignoring the fact that he or she may be more skilled and experienced than we are, and that there are many roads leading to the same destination.

Advising is necessary when parenting our children. While the small child, may (at least sometimes) accept the advice, the issue becomes different as the child grows up to a rebellious teenager. Finding your own ways, and making your own mistakes is a necessary part of growing up, and the wise parent picks the fights and try instead to provide a safe space for their youngsters’ explorations.

The urge to walk one’s own paths throughout life is especially strong among the highly creative individuals, but we all carry it within us. Most of us want to do things our own ways, and only recieve others’ advice when we ourselves seek it. I think this goes equally for both men and women. However, I do believe there is (and please excuse me for generalising) one important gender difference in how we handle advice.

A man often works self-reliently in silence until he gets stuck. And when he eventually tells others about the problem, he does it with the, sometimes unspoken, wish to get the other person’s views on how to find a solution.

When on the other hand a women tells about a problem, she may want advice, but if not specifically asking for it, she may equally well just want someone to listen and to acknowledge her feelings. This gives self-assurance, and afterwards she would go back to the problem and solve it by herself.

If the other person (in this case often a man) instead of listening, interprets the situation as a cry for help and starts giving advice, he may find himself in a situation of being accused of “not listening” and “always wanting to fix things“. In the end both persons may get their feelings hurt, and this gender difference could possibly also play some part in the mansplaining phenomenon.

Common to most men and women, I believe, is the inner rebellious teenager wanting to do things our own way. This is a way of life-long growing, learning and developing.

Receiving unsolicited advice, is therefore not something we usually appreciate, unless we really are in a situation when we are stuck, and a normal reaction would instead be to do the opposite even though we realise that this is a bit childish.

In our handling of advice (giving or receiving) we thus need to be more sensitive, and I will now give my (unsolicited) advice on the matter.

When seeing room for improvements in the way another person is dealing with something, we should avoid giving advice, instead we should be offering  advice. By simply saying “I’ see that you have a challenging task. I’m here for you if you want to discuss what you are doing” and then being silent, you will give the other person an option and open up for a dialogue at his or her conditions.

Presented this way, most persons would seize the opportunity to discuss if the issue really is problematic. If on the other hand the situation is under control, no feelings are being hurt.

When receiving unsolicited advice from another person, instead of feeling hurt, a “Zen approach” could be to simply and honestly say “Thank you very much for your advice. I value it and I will consider what you are saying”. That will likely end the conversation, and you would remain free to handle the situation the way you choose, either follow the advice or not.

The other person would also feel respected, and would in the end not lose face if you choose to ignore what was said. If instead you would start arguing, both of you may find yourselves in opposing, defensive positions with a risk of an unpleasant and unnecessary argument.

In real life, all this is easier said than done, and time after time we find ourselves in a situation where the tongue is faster than the thought. But being aware of what is happening is an important step towards improving the interaction.

In the end, and knowing that I (again) may be out on thin ice, I can’t resist sharing the illustrative video It’s not about the nail”.

svensk_flagga Detta blogginlägg på svenska

Complexity and contradictions of the highly creative individual

Josephine BakerThe psychology professor and creativity researcher Mihály Csikszentmihályi has studied nearly a hundred highly creative individuals, who were groundbreaking in their fields, to try to understand what it is that makes them manage to come up with and implement so many new and revolutionary ideas. What he came up with was that the common factor is not a certain specific property or a specific personality, but a series of opposing or conflicting personality traits which in most people are separated, but can be combined and accommodated within a single creative individual. This complexity and these opposites are often necessary for creative success because the different phases of the creative process require completely different qualities and abilities. In his book “Creativity: The Work and lives of 91 eminent people“, Csikszentmihályi describes a series of contradictions within these highly creative individuals.

The highly creative people can raise large amounts of physical energy. During the creative periods, they can work focused for long days and with a little sleep. But between these creative periods, they often have intervals when they relax and recharge their batteries. The endurance during the active periods seems to come from within through concentration and willpower rather than having stronger physics than others. Many of them experience this rolling flow between activity and rest as essential for their creativity. Physical energy also often expresses itself as sexual energy, which can periodically come to powerful expressions alternating with more ascetic periods when creation comes first.

At the same time creative people can be both smart and naive. Part of the creative process, especially during the preparation and verification phase, requires a convergent and analytical thinking that is strongly linked to the abilities we measure with intelligence tests. On the other hand, the connection between intelligence and divergent thinking is very weak. You can therefore be highly intelligent without being particularly creative and vice versa able to come up with many new ideas even though you have a relatively lower intelligence. In terms of thinking, the creative individuals have the ability to combine divergent and convergent thinking. The divergent thinking is needed to come up with the groundbreaking ideas while the convergent thinking is needed to realize them. Interestingly, some individuals who are considered highly creative have only a few revolutionary ideas throughout their lifetime. The rest of the time goes hand in hand to develop and fine-tune them. But at the same time, many highly creative individuals, such as Mozart, also had a childish and immature side.

Creative people combine playfulness with responsibility and discipline. Playfulness and the open mind are necessary in the initial part of the creative process, when the thoughts are bouncing around in the head and the crazy and odd ideas are flowing. Playfulness also causes the chains to break and the normal mental barriers, imposed by convention, can be overcome. But then there are long periods of focus and hard work that require a large measure of introversion, stamina and persistence. It also requires discipline and hard work to learn their domain. The artist needs to be able to master his expressions. The musician needs to master both his instrument and be able to read notes. The researcher needs to keep track of all the results within his research field and fully master the instruments in his laboratory.

Highly creative individuals swing between imagination and an ability to realise the realities. With their imagination they can see new possibilities and imagine a future that no one else sees. In their imagination they can also visualise how they skip obstacles that others had found insurmountable and therefore gave up the project. They rarely deal with skepticism and distrust, but in the end when the idea is developed and accepted, it appears that it was the innovators and their innovations that could best anticipate the possibilities of future reality. In other words, they have created a new reality with their imagination. On your creative journey there may also be a lot of tough reconciliation with reality. Does the idea work in practice? Can it be transformed into a new product? Could it be made cheap enough and resource efficient?

While most people are either introverted or extroverted as solid traits of character that rarely change, many creative people have both of these qualities at the same time. In their creation they can turn completely inward and be both unconscious and uninterested by their surroundings and sometimes also their own appearance. At the same time, in other periods, they may be forcefully outward in their commitment and defense of their ideas. Many great stage personages can be extremely outgoing on stage, while in their privacy they are bound and few.

Many creative people unite humility with pride. They are well aware of the great work of their predecessors in the field and they are grateful for the ability to build on their ideas and knowledge. But at the same time they are strongly filled by a sense of their own self-worth and an insight that they have achieved more than most in their environment. They are also more focused on the future and what they themselves can accomplish than looking back to admire others.

Most creative people are both passionate for their cause and for their work. They are willing to overcome many obstacles and their strong focus causes them to be prepared for major sacrifices both professionally and privately. The passion can also be needed when they are faced with skepticism and lack of understanding from their surroundings. At the same time, they need to be deeply self-critical and the first to objectively see the shortcomings in what they are creating. This objective self-criticism can then be used to improve the idea or work.

Creative people can at the same time be conservative and rebels. They must first embark in a tradition and learn to understand, respect and master their area before breaking their ground and creativity with their own ideas. This applies to both artists and scientists. Picasso first learned to master the traditional art forms before he became groundbreaking in the brand new cubist tradition. Already in his teens, Einstein mastered the traditional Newtonian physics before he could take the step forward and in 1905 develop the special theory of relativity. Despite respect for traditional knowledge, the creative individual is often characterised by a strong questioning and profound mistrust of authority. Current knowledge and insights are respected on the basis of an inner conviction of its value and not because someone else says that’s the case. Creative individuals are therefore not always appreciated by their surroundings.

Emotionally, it is not uncommon for highly creative people to commute between excited happiness and painful suffering. Harmony and joy are a good ground for playfulness and creativity. Creative creation also gives rise to positive feelings and self-satisfaction. At the same time, the creative individual often has a low pain threshold and can be severely affected by adversities to realise his idea. Divergent thinking is rarely valued by the surrounding people. The ability to see the possibilities makes it extra difficult to accept the mediocre. Being innovative is also exposed to risks. Being mocked or misunderstood for something one has created and is passionate about can be deeply painful. Sometimes, however, the negative can be used in the creation process. Many great artists have used their broken love, disappointments or melancholy as inspiration in a magnificent creation. Frida Kahlo, the Mexican artist who is perhaps most famous for her colourful self-portraits, suffered permanent injuries and severe pain after a road accident in her teens. The rest conditions after her accident resulted in that her being alone and isolated during extended periods of her life, with all her attention to herself, which was a prerequisite for her great art.

The creative individuals also tend to break the stereotypical gender roles. Creative and talented women tend to be more dominant than their sisters, while the creative men are often more sensitive and less aggressive than other men. This androgynic trend of creative individuals of both sexes makes it easier for them than others to exploit the entire repertoire of masculinity and femininity, giving them a clear advantage when it comes to the creative processes.

These complexities and contradictions in the highly creative individual manifest the essence of creativity, which is to embrace and welcome dualism, change, paradoxes, contradictions and uncertainties. They succeed in navigating and in a changing world by cultivating and developing their contradictory properties, and the result will not only be the sum without the product of these characteristics. A true creative person needs to be able to keep two thoughts in his head at the same time without desperately having to stumble upon stability, fact and reason. We can not create with only yin or only yang. The two must be equal in harmony.


An illustrative example of such an extremely creative, but immensely complex, person is the iconic jazz singer Josephine Baker who, in the 1920’s in Paris, danced in only a revealing banana skirt in La Revue Nègre. Baker was a singer and dancer, emotionally labile and with a strong sexual appetite, but also French spy during WWII, engaged in the civil rights movement and adoption mother of 12 “rainbow children” from all over the world. Her adopted son Jean-Claude Baker wrote in his biography of herI loved her, I hated her and would desperately try to understand her“.


svensk_flagga Den här bloggposten på svenska

Tänka utanför lådan: barometerfrågan

BarometerDen här tänkvärda anekdoten illustrerar så väl konsten att tänka utanför lådan. I en fysiktentamen vid Köpenhamns Universitet fick studenterna frågan hur man kunde mäta höjden på en skyskrapa med hjälp av en barometer. En av studenterna föreslog att man kunde gå upp på taket binda ett snöre i barometern sänka ner den till marken och sedan mäta längden på snöret. Professorn gav studenten noll poäng på frågan med hänvisning till att han med sitt svar inte demonstrerat några som helst kunskaper i fysik. Studenten klagade med motiveringen att svaret bevisligen var korrekt och fick efter en stunds argumenterande möjligheten att muntligen komma med en alternativ lösning på problemet. Studenten tänkte efter en lång stund utan att svara. Professorn som trodde att studenten inte hade en aning blev mer och mer irriterad och krävde ett snabbt svar. Studenten svarade då att det fanns så många lösningar på problemet att han inte visste vilken han skulle välja men sade sedan:

För det första kan man återigen ta upp barometer till taket släppa den över kanten och med ett tidtagarur mäta hur lång tid det tar för uret att falla. Med hjälp av formeln x = gt2/2 kan man sedan beräkna byggnadens höjd. Men den lösningen hade inte varit särskilt bra för barometern…

Eller så kan man ställa barometern lodrätt i solen och mäta längden på dess skugga, om man sedan mäter längden på byggnadens skugga så kan man utifrån principen om två likformiga trianglar lätt bestämma höjden på byggnaden. Men det förutsätter naturligtvis att solen skiner och att man inte mäter höjden på en byggnad på ekvatorn mitt på dagen…

En mer direkt metod, om man utgår från att det finns en brandstege utanpå byggnaden, är att gå upp för trapporna samtidigt som man markerar höjden av barometer längs väggen. Man kan sedan räkna antalet märken och multiplicera med barometerns höjd. Men detta kräver gott om tid och en bra ork…

Vill man vara mer sofistikerad så kan man knyta barometern på ett snöre och svänga den som en pendel och bestämma värdet på gravitationskraften på gatunivå och på toppen av byggnaden. Utifrån skillnaden mellan de båda värdena kan man beräkna höjden av byggnaden.

Om man vill vara riktigt tråkig och ortodox så kan man förstås använda barometern för att mäta lufttrycket på taket av skyskrapan och på marken och utifrån skillnaden räkna ut byggnadens höjd. Men detta svar är ju så uppenbart att jag först inte ens övervägde att ta med det.

Eftersom vi uppmanats att tänka själva, så är den lösning som nog tilltalar mig mest att ta barometern till fastighetsskötaren och säga till honom att han kan få en fin barometer om han berättar hur hög byggnaden är.

Enligt legenden var studenten Niels Bohr, den förste dansken att få Nobelpriset i fysik.


Tips: När du står inför ett problem, nöj dig inte med den första och mest uppenbara lösningen. Den är kanske inte den bästa, och det är alltid en fördel att kunna välja mellan flera olika alternativ. Reflektera en stund över alternativlösningar. Ta gärna ut svängarna och våga vara galen och annorlunda. De mest kreativa lösningarna kommer ofta först när du betat av de mer konventionella. Och kanske viktigast var aldrig självkritisk i problemlösningsfasen. Det är först när du har en rad alternativa möjligheter som du ska välja ut de bästa.


This blog post in English

Thinking outside the box: the barometer question

BarometerThis is a short story on thinking outside the box. In a physics exam at the University of Copenhagen, the students were asked how to measure the height of a skyscraper using a barometer. One of the students suggested that you go up on the rooftop, tie a string to the barometer and lower it down to the ground and then measure the length of the string. The professor gave the student zero points on the question with reference to the fact that with his answer he did not demonstrate any knowledge of physics. The student complained with the motivation that the answer was obviously correct and, after some arguments, he was given the opportunity to provide an alternative solution to the problem. The student thought for a long while without answering. The professor who thought the student had no idea became more and more annoyed and demanded a quick response. The student then answered that there were so many solutions to the problem that he did not know which one he would choose but then he said:

First, you can once again pick up the barometer to the roof drop it over the edge and with a chronometer measure how long it takes for the barometer to hit the ground. Using the formula x = gt square / 2, you can then calculate the height of the building. But that solution would not be particularly good for the barometer …

Or you can place the barometer vertically in the sun and measure the length of its shadow. If you then measure the length of the building’s shadow, you can easily determine the height of the building based on the principle of two uniform triangles. But of course, it requires that the sun shines and that you do not measure the height of a building on the equator in the middle of the day …

A more direct method, assuming there is a fire ladder outside the building, is to climb the stairs while marking the height of the barometer along the wall. You can then count the number of marks and multiply by the height of the barometer. But this requires a lot of time and a good energy …

If you want to be more sophisticated, you can tie the barometer on a string and swing it as a pendulum and determine the value of gravity at street level and at the top of the building. Based on the difference between the two values, you can calculate the height of the building.

If you want to be really boring and orthodox you can of course use the barometer to measure the air pressure on the roof of the skyscraper and on the ground and, on the basis of the difference, calculate the height of the building. But this answer is so obvious that I did not even consider mentioning it.

Because we were invited to think for ourselves, the solution that would appeal most to me is to take the barometer to the property manager and tell him that he can get a nice barometer if he tells how tall the building is.

According to legend, the student was Niels Bohr, the first Danish scientist to be awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics.


Tip: When facing a problem, do not be satisfied with the first and most obvious solution. It may not be the best, and it is always an advantage to be able to choose from several different options. Reflect a moment on alternative solutions. Dare to be wild, crazy and think differently. The most creative solutions often come first when you have already came up with the more conventional ones. And perhaps most importantly, never be self-critical in the problem-solving phase. It’s only when you have a range of options that you should sit down and choose the best.​