Friday, August 11, 2006


Galileo And Thought Experiments

Galileo used thought experiments to imagine a possible world in which a vacuum existed. In this way he could propose the astounding hypothesis that all objects fall through a vacuum with the same acceleration regardless of their weight. No labratory vacuums large enough to demonstrate this spectacular idea existed until years after Galileo's death. Today, this demonstration is standard fare in many sicence museums, where there are two evacuated columns in which a brick and feather released at the same time fall side by side and hit the floor together.

It's important to spend some time rephrasing problems in both more global and more specific ways. More specific problem statements lead to quicker solutions but less conceptual creativity than general statements. Think of the difference between cleaning up the oil spilled in your drive-way and the problem of environmental polution, or the difference between developing a new computer keyboard and developing a new niche in the global information business.

By using thought experiments when approaching any issue you can extrpolate from global to more specific quesitons and possbile answers. This technique for creative thinking employed by Galileo is still highly useful to the Creative Consultant.

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