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What happens in a genius mind that doesn't in a not talented mind?

  1. Mar 27, 2010 #1
    as an ordinary guy that is not a talented human,I always wonder what happens in mind of a genius human that does not happen in mind of an ordinary human,for example i have a friend which is a really talented boy and one of those to be said among top 0.5% of society,everytime we sit together and watch a movie after that he has so much to talk about and has very good ideas about the movie that i had not noticed,or when we are solving a math problem everything happens for him faster and he gives stronger solutions in a shorter time than i do and in our classes he is always the one that understands what our professors say better,or when we play adventure games(those kind of point and click) or puzzle games he is completley faster than me,and in so many other aspects,and while we had have always the same time to solve a problem in almost every aspect(lessons,games,understanding movies,...) he does better.so,if there is any genius or any human that knows it,could you please tell what happens in mind of a genius during any event of any kind that results in better understanding for them?

    (here i just give an example of what i mean by asking the above question:eek:ne of the things that i learnt from my friend was a very simple thing that i think everybody knows!until a couple of months ago every time i had a discussion with someone, after 5-6 hours i almost forgot details of what i had talked about,until someday my genius friend told me "you are a fool" and when i asked him why he said me "because you do not use your hearing at all!",after he said this to me i noticed my behaviours and saw how soon i really forgot things which were said to me,and i understood that this behaviour of "not listening to what is said to me carefully" has a great roll in forgetting things soon.so by asking the above question i also mean what do you think can we do to improve our minds,our understanding of phenomenons happening around us and our ways of thinking!

    best to all the physicsforums members.
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 27, 2010 #2
    This topic will get bogged down with posts about "There is no such thing as genius" etc.

    Anyway, one crucial step is to remember all important things. The next is to know how to apply said important things. After that it is just a lot of dubious stuff like "intuition" which is there to make up for the things in the brain that do not follow the regular laws of computers.
  4. Mar 27, 2010 #3


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    You may just have a mild form of attention deficit disorder. Do you find yourself easily distracted?

    You may not be that interested in some things, so don't remember as well as things that interest you. I've seen kids that were terrible when it came to remembering anything related to their schoolwork, but contained an entire database of knowledge when it came to their favorite bands, or sports team, etc...
  5. Mar 27, 2010 #4
    I can remember to breathe, eat and sleep. Whenever I need to remember something, like say how trigonometry works, I will just have to look at cos(45) real quick and I can remember everything about trig, but if I were to be asked about trig in the middle of the street I would have a very hard time explaining it.

    Everyone learns and remembers differently. So what if it takes you a little bit longer to do a problem, it doesn't mean your friend is a genius and you aren't.
  6. Mar 27, 2010 #5
    I find it bit hard to remember road names, where I live (sometimes :uhh:), my cell number..

    but I am good at remembering conversation.. I can recall important details from many conservations I had from more than a year ago..
  7. Mar 27, 2010 #6


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    One thing that I have noticed is that children will seem to inherit in some form the skills and traits of their parents which although may be an obvious thing to some, isn't always so.

    In saying this I think that at least to some degree there is a way that people can benefit in some areas by having genetic factors that contribute to it. By this I don't mean to say that people have a "math gene" or a "music gene" or a "science gene" but due to the makeup of their parents, at least some people have a tendency to display similar characteristics as their parents.

    But you should not get discouraged. I personally believe that if you want to become a "kind of genius" then you basically need true curiosity and the motivation to want to become the best you can be not only in your subject but in your life as well. If you acquire the skills and work hard but more importantly have the inclination to want to know about something, then you will more than likely learn about it.

    Also if you really want to know something you will, despite failures, and maybe even advice from "superiors" to "stop trying", you will never the less go on only to show to yourself that you are capable.

    If you think about people like Einstein or Gauss or even modern people like Andrew Wiles, it is documented that they become curious and deeply involved with math at a young age and specifically thought about the problems that they later went to solve in their adolescent years. They may have above average IQs but given the fact that they had this curiosity at such a young age, they were able to do things that were (and still are) considered revolutionary.

    Don't feel bad if you don't have the curiosity for something because when you find out what you do have it for, then you will more than likely succeed in that area just as others have succeeded in their areas that they too were curious about.
  8. Mar 28, 2010 #7
    Sometimes people focus too much on geniuses and to be honest I doubt there is much difference in their basic thought processes and yours.

    However to give a somewhat productive answer I will list what I believe are the main distinguishing factors between "remarkable" individuals and "normal" people. These answers will of course be highly colored by my personal views and experiences, and full of stereotypes.
    1) Normal people do not pay attention to the core message. When you hear people talk many people won't think about underlying motivations, what this really means, ways this could be different, etc. "Geniuses" on the other hand always listen actively and is always skeptical about any information. When a professor gives you a solution do you wonder how he came up with the solution? Do you think of alternative approaches? Do you consider whether the approach could solve other problems, or perhaps a more general problem? Do you think about the limitations of the method? These are the kinds of questions "geniuses" ask, but most normal people won't. And geniuses remembers the ideas and concepts, not the answers or exact methods.
    2) Geniuses do not think in a mechanical way. They do not compartmentalize. Sometimes people talk about being good at remembering, but being able to recall on demand is not what is that useful. What is useful is to always automatically recalling what you need. You may get asked a question in a class and be totally baffled while a genius would immediately see that the method used in a proof two semesters ago would apply here with some tweaking. You may be able to do the same thing if you went through your old notes, or if someone asked you "do you remember how to do x?" However the strength comes from independently making these connections. A genius do not think of knowledge as belonging in a specific course or even subject. Rather he sees it as being part of one large web.

    I believe that both of these traits are learned rather than something you're born with. In my experience geniuses are ordinary people with a passion and curiosity.
  9. Mar 28, 2010 #8
    Wikipedia defines it differently. As would I.

    There's nothing "ordinary" about a genius. Rather than *follow* norms and seek to adapt, a genius will *define* the entire ontology of this world to his/her personal liking; then seek to improve the parts that isn't "proper", asking questions about the very foundations of reality and our understanding of it in ways that seem almost *blasphemous* to everybody else. This is no matter of choice, it happens compulsively. In fact, you could say that genius is a kind of mental disorder, insofar that the mind of a genius works in ways that are as far removed from what's "normal" as does that of a schizophreniac. The only real difference lies in a (relative) ability to function within the social order, and emphatise with other people.

    Ordinary people, on the other hand, are more often than not *practical thinkers* who worry about their own well-being, and the pragmatic problems within their lives, before they worry about something which seems *improper* within our general ontology - whereas a genius is likely to starve to death while contemplating some obscure cognitive problem that is beyond the comprehensive capabilities of almost everybody else. In my opinion, the phenomenon of *genius* is a common anomaly in biology, a sort of mutant form of its species if you like. In a sense you could say it is about passion, insofar that the genius is *driven* by some kind of alien energy source that is inaccessible to "normal" people.

    However, that being said, everybody can improve their cognitive skills by some rather simple methods for disciplining their minds. A quick search of the internet ought to produce quite a lot of results for, say, "mnemotechnical devices" or "cognitive improvement techniques". It ultimately boils down to an ability to focus, I believe, most, if not ALL, your cognitive powers on whichever task is at hand. The genius has an advantage here because he or she is very rarely even as much as considering what could or would be to their *personal benefit*. (And if I may say, as a joke; this is probably why there are so few geniuses in the field of economics, haha.)
  10. Mar 28, 2010 #9
    Firstly I never defined what I meant by genius so I don't see exactly what you mean. I believe that geniuses are not born, but ordinary people with a passion and curiosity. Of course they won't qualify for the designation "genius" until they have achieved something extremely remarkable. I'm not stating that all people with a passion and curiosity are geniuses, but just that all geniuses were at one point an ordinary person with passion and curiosity. However I do assert that most people with passion and curiosity has the potential to become a genius if they are exposed to do right environment.

    I disagree. The term genius presents a false dichotomy. In reality I believe being genius is more of a continuum. Our tendency to ignore the middle "almost-genius" people means that we see an apparent jump between the thoughts of non-geniuses and geniuses.

    According to Wikipedia: "Although difficult to quantify, genius is to a level of aptitude, capability, or achievement which exceeds even that of most other exceptional contemporaries in the same field."
    There is no requirement that they think differently and while most geniuses do tend to do foundational work it's not necessarily a defining characteristic trait of a genius. It just tends to be the case that when someone thoroughly understands a field of knowledge they get to develop it in new ways. Do you have anything to backup your claim that geniuses are compulsively thinking differently?

    You are describing ordinary people who are not passionate and curious. While I do believe that they probably make up the majority of people I don't think anyone would argue that these are the potential geniuses.

    Why the need to refer to alien energy sources? Why can't a human be driven and *passionate*? This is exactly what I meant when I used the word passion, though I referred to humans. If you watch the development of smart people you will notice that early success in a field, and the acquisition of knowledge tends to increase passion in curious individuals. Someone who you may just describe as "pretty passionate" at 16 may be passionate in an "alien" way once he reaches 25.
  11. Mar 28, 2010 #10
    "Alien" here must be understood in a human way. I am not talking about anything otherworldly or supernatural, merely about the hypothetical differences in "cognitive structure" between geniuses and everybody else. But to answer your question; yes sure enough any human being can be driven and passionate, but they are usually *mundane* in their focuses. On the other hand, a genius couldn't care less about "life, the universe and everything".

    At the end of the day, geniuses are *freaks* - but useful freaks.
  12. Mar 28, 2010 #11
    How would ordinary people learn to instantly make connections to just about everything they learned? That is not something you have control over, but something that happens intuitively. It could be that smart peoples brains are just better at categorizing things.

    But it is not like this ability is restricted to some special subject they love, instead it applies to everything they hear and see. This is probably also the reason they all got a bit strange personalities.

    Edit: If you got an answer to that question btw, please tell me. I would like to know.
    Last edited: Mar 28, 2010
  13. Mar 28, 2010 #12
    I believe basically by practicing and introspection (over a period of several years). Maybe I expressed myself incorrectly. When I said "geniuses are ordinary people with a passion and curiosity" I meant that geniuses were at one point ordinary people with a passion and curiosity who pursued their passion. Some techniques I believe are beneficial (not that I claim to be a genius):

    When you have read a proof in a math book make it a habit to ask yourself what the general idea in the proof was and whether you have seen it anywhere else. When you fail to solve a physics problem and see the solution, ask yourself why you couldn't solve it. Did you simply lack the knowledge or were you unable to see a certain connection? If so should you have been able to see it? Basically start asking lots of questions. Even stupid questions and questions with no immediate benefit.

    When you take a walk or lie in your bed imagine explaining an elementary concept. Imagine all questions that could come up about it. Imagine motivating it from several angles of attack. Imagine how you can justify the concept. Basically try connecting the concept to other concepts. This is in my opinion a great exercise for getting an intuitive understanding of something, and getting to understand how it connects to other concepts.

    When you're reading a book about some subject try getting another book on the same subject. Contrast their expositions. Ask yourself why the order of presentations are different, and what it means. Approaching a subject from two different points of view can be beneficial to learning how to approach new concepts.

    I'm by no means an expert on learning strategies, but those were just some of the ideas I have used to develop my own approach to acquiring knowledge and solving problems.
  14. Mar 28, 2010 #13
    I hope that Fuzzyfelt gives her opinion in this thread. She studied the phenomenon, how genius ideas are born.

    My two cents in addition. Maybe it has also to do with multicore processing. The ability to entertain two or three -more or less- independent thoughts simultaneously. Every once and a while there is this million volt flash over between these thoughts. Take for instance the Kekule's snake dream, who dreamt about a snake biting in his own tail and had such a flash over to the moluculair structure of benzene.
  15. Mar 28, 2010 #14
    I vehemently disagree with this premise.

    There's nothing "democratic" about genius. Nor is it predictable. It simply happens.
  16. Mar 28, 2010 #15
    I guess we'll have to disagree then. There is not really anyway to determine whether geniuses are in some way fundamentally different from us. However I would like to point out the case of Raoul Bott (a distinguished mathematician who I would definitely consider a genius). In the AMS notice article http://www.ams.org/notices/200605/fea-bott.pdf" [Broken] we can read (text in square brackets are my comments):

    I'm not claiming this to conclusively disprove your thesis, but I think it suggests that maybe some geniuses were at one point not that special.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
  17. Mar 28, 2010 #16
    Annoyance because all people around you seem to have trouble with the simplest of things.

    If you're born smarter than the rest, people will appear to you as stupid, not being able to understand simple things, learn simple things et cetera. If you grow up realizing just how smart you are, you're probably just overestimating yourself, if you grow up realizing just who stupid all other people were and first assumed they were as smart as you—which to you is normal—they are probably more stupid than you, or put in other terms; you are smarter than they.

    Also, getting good marks has little to do with being intelligent, there are other factors into play: Laziness being a prime one. At my university, the smartest people got average marks, 7's and 8's, some less smart people got 9's because they studied a lot. There were some people who simply could get a 7 or an 8 without studying for exams and naturally lost the will to do so then.
  18. Mar 28, 2010 #17
    Just because you don't do well in school do not mean that you aren't a genius. Doing maths the "proper" or "improper" way is not a sign that you are a genius or not. Being a genius do not mean that you will earn any renown at all.

    Now excuse me for taking myself as an example, I have no intention of making any bold claims nor do I want to be recognized as a genius. But at least I do possess a few attributes which are commonly associated with intelligence.

    Anyhow I did extremely poorly in middle school, i loathed schoolwork and there was even a time when I skipped school two weeks in a row. Yet even though I did so poorly the teachers must have noticed something. During the middleschool graduation I recieved the biggest graduation gift from the school,(even though I did among the poorest in class if you look at the grades) with the motivation "As encouragement for further studies".

    By the way, my reason for asking you how to do it is since I want to help others. It pains me to stand by seeing how much people struggle with for example maths and physics while having almost no way to help. It seems like your suggestions is basically what many of those who are good already do but they still don't work even close like I do with the subjects. For me the connections are just there, I can't explain where they come from or how I do it but everything just comes together nicely.

    I long believed that most could do it that way and that everyone else just did it the slow and hard way which was very stupid of them. But the more I see the more I start to lose hope, people in general are very slow at understanding things it seems and even worse they forget almost everything they learn! So even those who understands things reasonably fast will forget half of it for the next class... Except those who puts in a copious amount of time into their studies which seems more like a cop out than a real solution to me.

    I really hate to say to the new students who are struggling "You got to spend more time, do more problems, do it till it become reflexive" because that goes against everything I believe in. But as of now I can't really think of any better advice for most of them.
  19. Mar 28, 2010 #18
    it seems there are some very useful comments here,every adult human in the world has some experiences in self developing and has found out somethings about himself .

    what you say is right,i exactly one of those persons you are talking about,ask me about musical bands from 1950 to current and i will tell you about them in details but ask me a hard math problem and it takes me hours to solve it,and nobody calls me a genius for knowing only musical bands,if i was very good at problem solving and exact information giving in some important aspects (important to human lives,for sure everybody would confirm that the role of sciences like engineering or medicine is so much more important to human lives than science of music!) i could be named a genius,so i think the word "genius" should be dedicated to those kind of people that they are capable of being very good at really important aspects of life such as engineering,physics,medicine,....

    have you ever tried to find out why you can not remember cell phones while you can remember conservations?if you have found that some reasons for it please tell us it could be useful to everyone here.i myself can remember conversations better than cellphone numbers and i think one of the reasons is in a conversation there is more activity and and fun rather than trying to remembering numbers.

    for sure what a child learns from parents is an ultimate important factor in making and creating his/her way of thinking,in most cases a child which has parents who are university professors would have different thoughts than a child whose parents are musicans, what i think is genes are very important factors too,i don't want to make this personal but i think the best example the "gene" is myself,my father is a professor and my mother is a teacher so as you see my family are educated well and it shows symptoms of a family having children that would be interested in science,but as a 24 years old man has that his B.S i do not have any interest in going any further in pure science and i really prefer to go to business and the cause is i see going to science and being a really good one in it needs a strong power of problem solving which i believe is very related to genes (and also in "methods" which i will talk about below) ,i really think this chance for me to earn a B.S in a relatively good university was given to me just because i had an educated family and if i was born in not-well-educated family i had less chances to have a relatively good life,at other hands my friend i spoke about earlier was born in a not very educated family and has his B.S from a better university and with better grades,so my experience shows me the "gene factor" is more important than "enviroment".but i still insist there are some ways to improve ourselves and it is not all in genes,i strongly believe what make a genius a genius is not just "he was born like that",in my opinion it is : a genius human has a more developed way of thinking than other humans so this makes them to understand the rules governing our world sooner than others and therefore they find out the better "methods" to apply to different problems in life,so as you see i think it is more better methods rather than only better genes,methods like Rasmhop talked about,and if an ordinary human applies the methods genius people apply ,they can be so much more effective than what they are now,so what do you think are some these methods that genius people find them sooner and with these methods we can get ourselves more developed persons?
  20. Mar 28, 2010 #19
    this is one thing that i really like to talk about,it is true ! for someones it is just there and they can all the things come together,but as i said before i believe this not what happens suddenly, i think if there is a problem in front of you and you understand the solution sooner than others it is due to the different way you have thought to different things from your childhood,for example you have asked those kind of "why questions" more than what normal people do ,so gradually it has made your mind more exact and more powerful and due to these kind of questions you have a more developed mind than others and can relate things together better than other people,am i right about this?
  21. Mar 28, 2010 #20
    It is like the "chicken/egg" problem in a way. But if you want to listen a bit here it goes:

    I stopped blindly trusting people at a really early age, my parents divorced earlier than I can remember and after that I lived 50/50. I always got two sides of each story so I figured that things are relative, if someone says something it doesn't mean that you should trust it, but it doesn't mean either that you should just throw it away. Them saying it means exactly that, they said it. Nothing more and nothing less.

    How do this relate to how I learn science? Well, in science it is an advantage to not believe in everything you hear but at the same time accept that it is something people believe in. When something a professor says sounds strange to me I do not believe in him, but I do believe that he believes in it and that thus there is something valuable in what he said. Then something in my head starts ticking till it makes sense since it don't like having these anomalies.

    Then I also have an almost perfect memory (My dad also got it), that is very hard to substitute and it was a very strange experience when I learned how much people forget. But above is how I think and it is basically what have gotten me to where I am now, something inside me can't stand not understanding things so when I sit and listen it starts working and I don't really have to try since it all happens reflexively. I do not know really what it do but it teaches me the material at least.
    Last edited: Mar 28, 2010
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