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Think differently…

Think differently

Reminding myself of David Bohm’s golden words… “the ability to perceive or think differently is more important than the knowledge gained“, I have come to realize that in order to thrive in this big bad world, it’s not enough to do just the same things as other people do, just was well as they do. One needs to think differently so that he/she act differently or perform better – one needs a better mindset, and one needs to put it into practice.

This “thinking differently” happens for a number of reasons: (1) an inner want to be eccentric (2) boredom from the routine life (3) an acumen to think out-of-the-box. Whatever be the case, the result is the same… u will be thinking differently. However, the most important thing in thinking differently is to know what others think like… else how can one compare their thinking without a baseline reference???

And yet another important thing is that… a greater impact or greater good comes from leveraging your “different” thoughts to a reasonable use… in furthering some cause!! Or much better in making this world a better place to live in 🙂 That is what I call “sensibly thinking differently” [LOL]

To put across both the points I mentioned above, here’s an anecdote I received from a pal (all credit to her for getting me to write this post):

Some time ago I received a call from a colleague. He was about to give a student a zero for his answer to a physics question, while the student claimed a perfect score. The instructor and the student agreed to an impartial arbiter, and I was selected.


The student had answered, “Take the barometer to the top of the building, attach a long rope to it, lower it to the street, and then bring it up, measuring the length of the rope. The length of the rope is the height of the building.”

The student really had a strong case for full credit since he had really answered the question completely and correctly! On the other hand, if full credit were given, it could well contribute to a high grade in his physics course and to certify competence in physics, but the answer did not confirm this.

I suggested that the student have another try. I gave the student six minutes to answer the question with the warning that the answer should show some knowledge of physics. At the end of five minutes, he had not written anything. I asked if he wished to give up, but he said he had many answers to this problem; he was just thinking of the best one. I excused myself for interrupting him and asked him to please go on.

In the next minute, he dashed off his answer, which read: “Take the barometer to the top of the building and lean over the edge of the roof. Drop the barometer, timing its fall with a stopwatch. Then, using the formula H = 1/2 x a x t 2, calculate the height of the building.”

At this point, I asked my colleague if he would give up. He conceded, and gave the student almost full credit. While leaving my colleague’s office, I recalled that the student had said that he had other answers to the problem, so I asked him what they were.

“Well,” said the student, “there are many ways of getting the height of a tall building with the aid of a barometer.”

“For example, you could take the barometer out on a sunny day and measure the height of the barometer, the length of its shadow, and the length of the shadow of the building, and by the use of simple proportion, determine the height of the building.”

“Fine,” I said, “and others?”

“Yes,” said the student, “there is a very basic measurement method you will like. In this method, you take the barometer and begin to walk up the stairs. As you climb the stairs, you mark off the length of the barometer along the wall. You then count the number of marks, and this will give you the height of the building in barometer units.”

“A very direct method.”

“Of course. If you want a more sophisticated method, you can tie the barometer to the end of a string, swing it as a pendulum, and determine the value of g at the street level and at the top of the building. From the difference between the two values of g, the height of the building, in principle, can be calculated.”

“On this same tact, you could take the barometer to the top of the building, attach a long rope to it, lower it to just above the street, and then swing it as a pendulum. You could then calculate the height of the building by the period of the precession”.

“Finally,” he concluded, “there are many other ways of solving the problem. Probably the best,” he said, “is to take the barometer to the basement and knock on the superintendent’s door. When the superintendent answers, you speak to him as follows: ‘Mr. Superintendent, here is a fine barometer. If you will tell me the height of the building, I will give you this barometer.'”

At this point, I asked the student if he really did not know the conventional answer to this question. He admitted that he did, but said that he was fed up with high school and college instructors trying to teach him how to think.

The student was Neil Bohr (known for quantum theory of physics & mechanics) and the arbiter was Rutherford. THINK DIFFERENT!!!!

  1. July 19, 2007 at 6:27 am

    Well,thinking differently is certainly the best way to present one’s own views differently which develop into new innovative ideas.
    Eccentricity is essential for thinking out-of-the-box. Teachers,lecturers hamper the innovative thinking potential of students with mindless ,conventional lessons and theories, steering their thinking for grades and competitive exams. The education system needs a complete makeover.

  2. July 19, 2007 at 9:49 am

    @ Amaan

    You are right on dat account… but one needs to tread cautiously. Intelligence is in understanding the conventional thought process and then moving beyond n thinking differently!

  3. Punk_Princess
    July 19, 2007 at 4:16 pm

    Only moid can come up with something so intellectual. You are a dear sweethrt. For whatever I need in life, I think of you as the perfect guide. Thnkoooooo moid

  4. Deepti
    July 21, 2007 at 10:13 pm

    I agree with the Princess 🙂 David Bohm and yes with Mo’s insightful post as well!

  5. July 22, 2007 at 6:30 am

    @ Punk_Princess

    Thanks… but I think u hav put me on a very high pedestal [LOL]. I am no longer “down-to-earth”

  6. July 22, 2007 at 6:31 am

    @ Deepti

    As for you, my best pal for life!! And yea, one of my greatest motivation… thanks!!!

  7. yasser
    August 4, 2007 at 11:18 am

    Moid, I have been a silent visitor to your blog for long. Now, you have not added any new post for long. I am anxious to read as your blog is so cool and very knowledgeable. Maybe you can make it into a book for sale.

  8. Nisha
    September 6, 2007 at 10:21 am

    all ur posts in smway or the other are humorous…i smtimes js end up laughin out loud…u cn very well express imp thngs in a light note…

  9. September 26, 2007 at 7:56 pm

    Hey just chanced upon ur posts frm somewhere.
    This story though, is a bit fabricated. It originally appeared as a parable ‘Angels on a Pin’ by Alexander.
    Can check out things at the snopes here and some remarkshere(scroll down).

    Anyway as far as anecdote serves the purpose, who cares!

    Think Diff.!

  1. March 21, 2010 at 12:10 pm

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