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Creativity in Physics?

  1. Feb 19, 2008 #1
    What does it mean to be creative in Physics? Does it mean to just think outside the box? What does that mean in physics?

    For example, IIT physics students are better at solving physics question than Berkeley students, but many claim that Cal students are more creative, bcs. Berkeley students have less questions, and thus more time to think about a question, analyze it, understand it, and question its limits, change the problem, ex make the block on an incline spin, etc.

    So are Berkeley students more creative?

    And what does it mean to be creative in physics?

    Should a true genius be more creative than able to solve all the details in a physics question? Better to see the whole big picture rather than all the details.
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 19, 2008 #2


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    Creativity is a tool, just like math and philosophy. It can over-emphasized as well as under-emphasized.

    While we all realize there's an extent to which creativity might be discouraged in science (depending on what you think of when you hear 'creativity') there's plenty of mathematical techniques and lab techniques that all serve the same function, and may be used in different combinations for optimization of different aspects of an experiment (or theory).

    Also, the nomenclature we use when writing our papers (tortuosity!), the way we describe things and understand them in an experiential way (periodic table), the way we prefer to model things (Feynman diagrams) all required a certain amount of creativity.
  4. Feb 20, 2008 #3
    hmm, i never thought of creativity as a tool, but i can actually see that quite easily. I think that creativity like other tools can also be learned, but some are more talented at that than others.

    True geniuses i think are excellent at being creative, rather than mainstream, because there are many people in mainstream who can do the details of the problem and the math of it, but a geniuses like Einstein or Feynman can understand the math, perhaps not do it, but most importantly, they can see above it and ask questions and make theories.
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