Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Creative Community: Radar Fourteen: Honey, I Shrunk Red Hook

When curator Laura Arena approached MIT’s Luis Blackaller & Andy Cavatorta, her brief was simple: create something that initiates interaction between the inhabitants of the neighborhood. From the Portuguese fisherman to the Projects, to the artists and hipsters, to a new influx of people, Lucky Gallery sits at the crux of several different communities, none of whom talk, but acknowledge each other as familiar strangers. Luis and Andy’s response was to build a miniature version of Red Hook and populate it with photographic doll versions of people they met and talked to on the street. We join Luis and Andy as they prepare for the opening and watch as the element of play in a virtual world impacts communication in the real one.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Commentary: On "New Biography Focuses on Einstein's Creativity"

By Edwin Hollenbeck
Creativity + Social Change, University of Connecticut
Media Reviewed:
Talk of the Nation: Science Friday - July 6, 2007
LISTEN TO AUDIO: “New Biography Focuses on Einstein's Creativity
In his new biography of Albert Einstein, author Walter Isaacson argues that it was Einstein's creativity, not his mathematical genius, that led him to his great discoveries.
  • Ira Flatow, Host and Executive Producer
  • Walter Isaacson, author, Einstein: His Life and Universe; president and CEO, The Aspen Institute; former managing editor, Time magazine; former chairman and CEO, CNN
Related Readings:
Excerpt: 'Einstein' by Walter Isaacson, From Chapter 1: The Light-Beam Rider

The Einstein Factor: Proven Techniques to Boost Your Brain's Performance!
NOVEMBER 1995 SUCCESS Pages 55-62 [reprint]
In his narrative biography on the life of Albert Einstein, the two words that Walter Isaacson uses to describe the true success and ability for Einstein to develop his amazing theories comes down to freedom and creativity. He argues that it was not dependently the fact of Einstein’s great mind about science and mathematics that gave me such great insight into solving his greatest theories but it was the very way he perceives the universe that made him so different. But in a work of study that came several years before Isaacson’s biography, the question is begged if the traits found in Einstein were specific to his genius or if anyone could develop his or her own brain into being so wise and intuitive.

According to Isaacson, Benjamin Franklin and Einstein shared a trait of creativity. However, where Franklin excelled as an experimentalist, Einstein came up short. Isaacson explains that during a series of mental exercises Einstein was “driven by an imagination that broke from the confines of conventional wisdom” and that Einstein could “picture the underlying reality behind a mathematical equation.” These “thought experiments” were close to what the common layman might consider daydreams and delved Einstein’s mind into abstract curiosities. Einstein’s rise to fame came at a time when society was encouraging the breakage of classical bonds of conformity and celebrating figures like Picasso, Freud, and Joyce. His departure from conventional scientific methods was a welcomed jump from the stiff experiment-based science.

It wasn’t always that Einstein did not care for traditional science but that he was not very good at the typical learning methods. He thought more in visualizations than through “normal” written studies, which combined with his rebelliousness and creativity, allowed him to think of the universe as a puzzle more than a series of mathematical equations. His rebellious nature was against authority of many sorts and current limitations in scientific knowledge were no exception. His theories were so extreme and vast in topic for the time (relativity, energy, and space) it’s no wonder they captured the imagination of society.

An earlier work by Dr. Win Wenger (The Einstein Factor) suggests that Einstein was not born as a genius but trained his mind in a sense that allowed him to tap into these greater thoughts. When Einstein’s brain was autopsied there was no obvious difference between his own and a layman, but under further research it was discovered the true less obvious difference was the sheer number of neurological connections his brain encased. The higher the number of connections that your brain develops the greater an individual’s ability is to think. Through specific and not so specific types of interactions, Dr. Wenger suggests that anyone is capable of having such a genius mind if they, no pun intended, put their mind to it.