At Temple University, psychologist Kathy Hirsh-Pasek has tested the connection between play and creativity in children. In one experiment, she gave groups of four- to six-year-olds a pipe cleaner, a paper clip, and some aluminum foil. She told one group to play freely; she told another to think about what uses the objects might have; and she told a third group to use the objects to build specific tools, such as a bridge or a ladder. She then challenged the children to figure out ways to get a bear across a river. Hirsh-Pasek found that the second group—the ones engaged in what she calls guided play—came up with the most creative solutions. The same idea applies to scientists, she says: They do their best work when they're free to play around with a known set of problems.
Alison Gopnik, a psychologist at the University of California at Berkeley, sees an explicit connection between toddlers and scientists. She's done studies that show that children run their own experiments by playing with the world around them. "One of the things that we always say is that it's not that children are little scientists—it's that scientists are big children," she told one interviewer. "Scientists actually are the few people who as adults get to have this protected time when they can just explore, play, figure out what the world is like."
On Thursday nights, Erik's class meets to work on unsolved problems in the field of geometric folding. As the grad students file in, he writes a set of questions on the blackboard. One involves a box of business cards that he's left out on a desk. Can the students figure out a way to turn them into interlocking octahedrons? Another involves a square piece of paper. What's the largest regular tetrahedron they can fold from it?
It doesn't take long for the students to pop up from their seats and start scrawling on the board. Soon they've broken up into groups, sketching out ideas or punching thoughts into a laptop. Each team has its own approach. Some use rulers and Scotch tape; others draw things by hand. Erik stands by with his stylus, jotting notes onto a tablet, doling out advice and cracking jokes. These freewheeling sessions often lead to published papers, and the tetrahedron problem might even have some useful applications: It could teach manufacturers how to use a sheet of metal more efficiently.
As usual, Erik's father Marty is also in the room, drawing his ideas on a scrap of paper. At one point, he shows the students what he's doing, and they crowd around to see. He's come up with a quirky way of folding a set of triangles—the four faces of the tetrahedron—from a bunch of smaller shapes. It's a plan the others hadn't thought of, but Erik shakes his head as he surveys the sketch. He and Marty can at times seem more like brothers than a father and a son.
"Well, it's another approach to play with," Marty says. "It's very conceptual, but I think it has possibilities." Later he'll try to build a working model in his studio, and Erik will go and take a look. When Marty's not around, Erik might even make some changes of his own—it's all part of their process.
"We know each other so well that it makes for a really effective combination," Erik says. "He's always trying to reinject some playfulness into my serious work. It lets us do things that neither of us could do." It also lets them do things that other academics would never try.
Among their many big ideas, the notion that play is fundamental to science may be the most profound. It could also form the basis for Erik's greatest contribution to his field. As the students file out of the classroom, having spent two hours doodling and folding, doing math and generally enjoying themselves, he wipes the blackboard clean. When I ask him later why he chooses to teach the way he does, he answers simply, "I think this is a cool way of working, and more people should work this way. Sadly, not everyone does, so I try to pass it on."
Perhaps in this genius youth being a nerd, the popular kids told him to go and get bent.
Of course this genius being wise said YES to himself and decided to make a productive future of bent things, lol.
I think this gentleman is AWESOME!
I first saw this guy in a documentary about origami called Between the Folds (available on Netflix). It's a good documentary, and this man is a great influence on the world. Kudos.
He should be in charge of educating the youth, imagine how he could change the world by starting with blank slates.
I hate that condescending looking smirk.
I so much appreciate and enjoy his smirk.
KUDOS TO HIM!
Frosttty, That's not a condescending smirk. Interesting that you think that but that's another matter entirely. He just doesn't like to have his photo taken.
So, being that it's Monday he gets to play...
Ok; we like the magnetic torus. We like ring magnets even though we can't figure out how to make a perfect one. What if we don't need a perfect one? In energy, that ring magnet gives us a potential core for fusion. So then why not mechanically build a core the same way a sun does it's fusion?
Suspend a small common neo ring magnet above a descending spiral configuration magnet array. Wee! It spins! Locality established, engine on. Bear with me. While that ring may not be perfectly polarized, it will be if it works. Put a glass of water in there, so that the ring magnet is suspended in water. Freeze. Remove ice from glass, trim off the excess incredibly dangerous material you've created. Crush between two plasma pinches. The magnet will receive it's charge at pretty much .9 C or better? All the oxygen atoms in the water molecules were already aligned in their spiral towards the core, where they'll drag those two side by side hydrogen atoms in behind them, correct? And that's where the electron pairing starts, as it breaks loose that oxygen. It's already partially photonically aligned as well, and there are plenty enough photons in the ice next to that magnet. When the crush comes it breaks everything around that core potential and releases heat, but not before that neo magnet. When it breaks it should implode. One instant in time and space. Breaking the strong force, electrons hit, re-exited photons hit, and creating the potential to fuse those two first H atoms?
What I like about this one is that it breaks down all forces in sequence, and states dictate the energetic reaction from the lowest back up. It uses nothing extra. It requires nothing other than the natural process as it exists in nature. I've considered that we may have to jam some photon streams in there. I've considered that we might have to remove the magnet from the ice because it is an impure quantity in our mix, which is fine. Doesn't change anything, because once the ice has formed, the magnet has done it's job already. Remove the ice, and when those two plasma pinches become a circuit, it's as if they are a stamped magnetic circuit in the physical world. Particle positioning and vectoring are extant, but not in a system that has to bow to Coulomb because we create a system that depends on it working, just in reverse.
Nah, leave the magnet, passively connect negative across ice, and start pulling juice at the time the magnet shatters. Means a positive pair of plasma pinches. Ya. That's the ticket.