Inspiration can come from many places. For me it is often via making a connection between two separate areas. I wrote about this phenomenon in my earlier artcile, Synthesis.
A couple of inspiration-related events have led me to pen this piece today and, as a great man once said:
When two separate events occur simultaneously pertaining to the same object of inquiry we must always pay strict attention.
The first occurrence was an article on Jeff Shuey’s blog entitled Surely, you must be joking. This borrows from the title of Nobel Laureate Richard P. Feynman‘s book Surely You’re Joking Mr. Feynman (as edited by his friend and co-drummer Ralph Leighton). I have found Feynman to be an inspirational character since I first saw him interviewed in depth on the BBC’s science magazine programme, Horizon. Some footage of this interview appears in the BBC’s archives, and may be viewed here. It is well worth a look.
I happen to have recently referenced Feynman, albeit rather obliquely, in a review of my bogging experiences, New Adventures in Wi-Fi – Track 1: Blogging. I have been delighted to receive some messages from people saying that this article had prompted them to take up blogging themselves. There can surely be no greater compliment paid in social media and I am honoured to receive it.
The idea for Jeff’s article came both from Microsoft featuring Feynman’s work on its Project Tuva site (this doesn’t seem to work for me in Chrome, though it’s fine in IE8 – maybe I’ll keep quiet about this in case the European Commission is listening in) and a subsequent exchange of tweets and links that we shared on twitter.com. Jeff’s handle is @jshuey if you would like to follow him. Also check out Jeff’s article to learn more about how a remarkable human being has influenced both him and Project Tuva.
and Thing Two
The second event relates to the traditional American diner that is round the corner from where I live. I appreciate that I live in London, but nevertheless I do have a traditional American diner round the corner. It is even owned by a Packers fan from Wisconsin. Lauren is one of the people who regularly works there and she has a talent for drawing in chocolate – no you haven’t misread that, she draws in chocolate, specifically on the plate that holds the diner’s very pleasant flourless chocolate cake.
Mermaids have been a favourite theme for Lauren, but more recently she has moved on to more ambitious works. The first was Michael Jackson for obvious reasons. This was followed by Barak Obama. The other day I suggested that, if she was working her way through American icons, then the next obvious person would be Marilyn Monroe. Lauren liked this idea and when I visited this morning to get my customary cup of coffee (skinny cappuccino rather than black and hot sadly) her lastest work greeted me:
I’m really happy that my input has played a small part in two creative acts. This is particularly the case as I am normally acknowledging the inspiration that I have drawn from other people.
This sort of give and take of ideas has of course been happening during the entire course of human history. Clearly, even if I live to be 100, I could never hope to be as inspirational or influential as Richard Feynman. However it is both gratifying and humbling to be able to take part in the cycle of human interaction, no matter how minor my role. Maybe these two small recent examples are further evidence that the pace is increasing.