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The Science Behind Eureka Moments

https://elemental.medium.com/the-science-behind-eureka-moments-6729e3ce4de7

elemental.medium.com

The Science Behind Eureka Moments
I t's the third century, B.C., and the King of Syracuse is suspicious. He has commissioned a new gold crown. But upon receiving the crown from his goldsmith, the king believes the item has been adulterated with silver. He asks his great scientist Archimedes to verify the crown's purity.

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The 'Eureka' moment

The 'Eureka' moment

Eureka moments may seem unpredictable and unreplicable. But there are ways to coax these inspired ideas from their hiding places. One of the best is to take a break from thinking about a problem or dilemma.

They are linked to the story of Archimedes and the gold crown ( when he realized while taking a bath that he can use displaced water to assess the density of the king's crown and, therefore, its gold content).

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“When you’re completely stuck on a problem, setting it aside can lead to new ideas or even flashes of insight.” 

Mark Beeman

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Mental Break

Mental Break
A 2019 study titled “When the Muses Strike” found that many physicists and writers had creative insights while they exercised, showered, gardened, or engaged in other predominantly physical activities which gave them a mental break.

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The mind needs space

The mind needs space

...not distractions. Activities like checking email and watching TV stop our background thinking and do not let the mind wander in places that make for creative insight.

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Creativity and relaxation

Creativity and relaxation
  • Creativity is closely related to play, not work, so do not have an agenda.
  • Lighten up and let yourself loose, free to roam and explore.
  • The mind left to itself starts to work creatively in the background at a subconscious level.

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SIMILAR ARTICLES & IDEAS:

Combinatory Play

We’ve all experienced that flash of insight, that fleeting moment when a solution we’ve been grinding away at reveals itself in an unexpected place.

Einstein, for example, was known...

Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs

“Creativity is just connecting things.”

How The Brain Works

The brain’s building blocks are neurons: nerve cells that receive and transmit signals along neural pathways. Certain pathways are forged at birth. Others can be manipulated by learning. 

So when you’re stuck in a rut, your brain’s neurons could literally be stuck on a neural pathway you’ve carved out through your behavior. But you can get unstuck by choosing to make new connections.

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Listening To Music While Working

Listening To Music While Working

While monotonous work like making a report is tolerable with your favorite music playing in the background, any kind of creative work can be significantly impaired if it is accompanied by music.

Creativity: The Incubation Period

After a problem has been examined and analysed, creative thinkers often hit a roadblock, which is actually an ‘incubation period’ where the brain works in the background to process information at an unconscious level.

This results in an ‘aha’ or a ‘Eureka!’ moment when the solution or idea pops inside the head later when we are not consciously thinking about it.

Unexpected Connections

Certain unthought of combinations, associations, innovations and links between remote objects or ideas can be stimulated by specific kinds of music, provided it helps us focus ‘away’ from the problem rather than focussing more on it.

Most music that one listens to while doing creative work is just a distraction, and rather than helping us, it creates more cognitive load on our brain, which has to block out the sound.

Early History

The connection between genius and possible insanity was first documented in 1891 in the Italian physicians’ book The Man Of Genius.

In 1869, this was taken up by the cousin of Charles Darwi...

Genius and Heredity

In a 1904 study by English physician Havelock Ellis, a list was made of 1030 individuals through extensive research, examining thoroughly the intellectual distinction people had by the various factors like heredity, general health, and social class.


These works established that genius minds are often hereditary.

Genetic Studies Of Genius

A body of work of Stanford psychologist Lewis M. Terman, was an in-depth multi-decade study of gifted individuals, and an attempt to improve the measurement of genius and its association with the degradation of mental stability. This also included an enhanced version of the French IQ (Intelligence Quotient) test.