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The Science Behind Eureka Moments

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 Science Behind Eureka Moments

The Science Behind Eureka Moments

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

elemental.medium.com

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Key Ideas

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).

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

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

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.

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.

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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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.

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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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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.

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The “Eureka!” moment

This myth encourages the belief that creativity is a passive process. It suggests you have to wait and hope that you’ll make a breakthrough.

That Eureka moment is actually the last step in a long, involved process and not the only step. For this to happen, your unconscious mind needs material to work with. You have to put in the hard work of studying and mastering your field and exposing yourself to different perspectives.

The lone, eccentric geniuses

In reality, creativity is a team sport.

The lone genius myth is a stereotype and it’s unhelpful because it suggests the route to innovation is to cut oneself off from colleagues and collaboration. You need a modest amount of intelligence to be creative, but extremely high IQ is neither sufficient nor necessary for being an innovator.

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