Sudden Genius?: The Gradual Path to Creative Breakthroughs

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OUP Oxford, Sep 16, 2010 - Science - 416 pages
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The highly admired scientist Linus Pauling, a double Nobel laureate in chemistry and peace, was once asked by a student. 'Dr Pauling, how do you have so many good ideas?' Pauling thought for a moment and replied: 'Well, David, I have a lot of ideas and throw away the bad ones.' Where do ideas come from? Why do some people have many more of them than others? How do you distinguish the good ideas from the bad? Most intriguing of all, perhaps, why do the best ideas sometimes strike in a flash of 'sudden genius'? These questions are the subject of this book. Andrew Robinson explores the exceptional creativity in both scientists and artists by following the trail that led ten individuals from childhood to the achievement of a famous creative breakthrough as an adult, in archaeology, architecture, art, biology, chemistry, cinema, music, literature, photography, and physics. Broken into three parts, the book begins with the scientific study of creativity, covering talent, genius, intelligence, memory, dreams, the unconscious, savant syndrome, synaesthesia, and mental illness. The second part tells the stories of five breakthroughs by scientists and five by artists, ranging from Curie's discovery of radium and Einstein's theory of special relativity to Mozart's composing of The Marriage of Figaro and Virginia Woolf's writing of Mrs Dalloway. Robinson concludes by considering what highly creative people who achieve breakthroughs have in common; whether breakthroughs in science and art follow patterns; and whether they always involve imaginative leaps and even 'genius'.
 

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Sudden Genius: Creativity Explored Through Ten Extraordinary Lives

User Review  - Antoinette Brinkman - Book Verdict

The concept of genius is both revered and reviled in modern society. However, the genius personalities chosen for this book would probably be widely accepted as prime examples of high accomplishment ... Read full review

Contents

LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
PREFACEMeetings with Remarkable Creators
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
INTRODUCTIONThe Science and Art of Breakthroughs
PART IINGREDIENTS OF CREATIVITY
CHAPTER 1GENIUS AND TALENTReality or Myth?
CHAPTER 2INTELLIGENCE IS NOT ENOUGH
CHAPTER 3STRANGERS TO OURSELVES
CHAPTER 12ALBERT EINSTEINSpecial Relativity
CHAPTER 13VIRGINIA WOOLFMrs Dalloway
CHAPTER 14HENRI CARTIERBRESSONThe Decisive Moment
CHAPTER 15SATYAJIT RAYPather Panchali
PART IIIPATTERNS OF GENIUS
CHAPTER 16FAMILY MATTERS
CHAPTER 17PROFESSOR OF THE LITTLE FINGER
CHAPTER 18CREATIVE SCIENCE VERSUS ARTISTIC CREATION

CHAPTER 4BLUE REMEMBERED WEDNESDAYS
CHAPTER 5THE LUNATIC THE LOVER AND THE POET
PART IITEN BREAKTHROUGHS IN ART AND SCIENCE
CHAPTER 6LEONARDO DA VINCIThe Last Supper
CHAPTER 7CHRISTOPHER WRENSt Pauls Cathedral
CHAPTER 8WOLFGANG AMADEUS MOZARTThe Marriage of Figaro
CHAPTER 9JEANFRANÇOIS CHAMPOLLIONDecipherment of Egyptian Hieroglyphs
CHAPTER 10CHARLES DARWINEvolution by Natural Selection
CHAPTER 11MARIE CURIEDiscovery of Radium
CHAPTER 19IS THERE A CREATIVE PERSONALITY?
CHAPTER 20REPUTATION FAME AND GENIUS
CHAPTER 21THE TENYEAR RULE
POSTSCRIPTGenius and Us
REFERENCES
BIBLIOGRAPHY
INDEX
Copyright

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About the author (2010)

Andrew Robinson is the author of some twenty books covering both the arts and the sciences, which have been acclaimed by both national newspapers and specialist journals. They include five biographies of exceptionally creative individuals in a wide range of fields: the physicist Albert Einstein (A Hundred Years of Relativity, 2005), the film director Satyajit Ray (The Inner Eye. 1989), the writer Rabindranath Tagore (The Myriad-Minded Man, 1995), the archaeological decipherer Michael Ventris (The Man Who Deciphered Linear B, 2002), and the polymath Thomas Young (The Last Man Who Knew Everything, 2006). He is a King's Scholar of Eton College, and holds a degree in chemistry from Oxford University and a second degree from the School of Oriental and African Studies in London. For many years he worked in book publishing, television, and journalism, most recently as Literary Editor of The Times Higher Education Supplement from 1994-2006.

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