Srinivasa Aiyangar Ramanujam
It is one of the most romantic stories in the history of mathematics. In 1913, the English mathematician G.H. Hardy received a strange letter from an unknown clerk called Ramanujam. From Madras, India.
The ten page letter contained about 120 statements of theorems on infinite series, improper integrals, continued fractions, and the number theory.
Every prominent mathematician gets letters from cranks, and at first glance Hardy put this letter in that class. But something about the formulas made him take a second look, and show it to his collaborator J E Little Wood. After a few hours they concluded that the results “must be true because, if they weren’t true, no one would have the imagination to invent them.”
As a college drop out, from a poor family, Ramanujam’s position was precarious. Hardy brought him to England. The two made an odd pair. Hardy was a great exponent of rigour in analysis, while Ramanujam’s results were (as Hardy put it) ” arrived at by a process of mingled argument and intuitive genius”. He went on to add “I have never met his equal.”
Sir Issac Newton
“Science does not have a theory that explains or predicts the characteristics of intuition, and yet, many scientific discoveries relied heavily on intuitive insights. The connections between intellect and intuitions are one of the great mysteries of our universe.”
Issac Newton supposedly watched an apple fall from a tree and suddenly connected it’s motion as being caused by the same universal gravitational force that governs the moon’s attraction to the earth.
John Meynard Keynes, the famous economist said, “Newton owed his success to his muscles of intuition. Newton’s powers of intuition were the strongest and most enduring with which a man has ever been gifted.”
“Science does not have a theory that explains or predicts the characteristics of A well documented case of intuition concerns Frederick Kekule’s (1829 – 1896) discovery of the structure of benzene. Kekule saw the answer in a dream of a snake coiled and biting it’s tail. In an intuitive flash, he realised that the molecular structure was characterised by a ring of carbon atoms.
Benzene is a 6 carbon ringed compound with 6 hydrogen atoms with carbon carbon bonds arranged alternatively single and double.
“In my dream, one of the snakes had seized hold of it’s own tail, and the form whirled mockingly before my eyes. As if by a flash of lightning, I awoke.”
This intuition opened the way to modern theories of organic chemistry.
While visiting the bath, Archimedes suddenly awoke to a significant principle that would enable him to measure the volume of an object based upon the amount of water it displaced.
At the time he had been wrestling with a royal problem. The ruler Heiro suspected that he had been cheated by the goldsmith who had crafted his crown.
Archimedes’ job was to determine the volume of the crown, so as to learn, from it’s weight, whether or not it had been made of pure gold. the Roman architect Vitruvius recounts the Eureka moment of Archimedes’ discovery.
“When he went down into the bath pool he observed that the amount of water which floated outside the pool was equal to the amount of his body that was immersed.
Since this fact indicated the method of explaining the case, he leapt out of the bath tub, and going home naked, cried aloud that he had found exactly what he was seeking… For as he ran he shouted in Greek Eureka!! Eureka!!”
James Watson and Francis Crick
The Double Helix Story : the structure of the DNA.
Working together at the university of Cambridge in England, James Watson and Francis Crick, a British researcher, made a scientific breakthrough when they discovered the famous “double helix”, the structure of DNA, the molecule of life.
Watson and Crick said, “we wish to suggest a structure for the salt of deoxyribose nucleic acid (DNA). This structure has novel features which are of considerable biological interest”.
Those modest words were an understatement. Nine years later in 1962, they received their Nobel prize for answering one of science’s long pondered mysteries, advancing the emerging field of molecular biology in process.
Watson and crick’s quest helps illustrate how intuition, creativity, hard work and collaboration often conspire on the path of scientific inventions.
“The Eureka moment”
DNA was first isolated in 1869 by Friedrich Miescher a Swiss scientist. In 1953, the great American scientist Linus Pauling claimed to have discovered the structure of the DNA molecule. But before he could publish his paper, Watson and Crick saw the DNA crystal x-ray and knew Pauling was off target.
Watson said “the moment I saw the x-ray, my mouth fell open, my pulse began to race and instinct dawned upon me that a DNA resembled a stair case or a ladder and this powerful intuition paved the way to invent the structure of the DNA.”
The way Steve Jobs viewed life:
“When you grow up, you tend to get told the world is the way it is and your life is to just to live inside the world.
Try not to bash into the walls too much. Try to have a nice family, have fun and save a little money.
That’s a very limited life. If you learn the way to push the walls, it pops out. Life can be much broader once you discover one simple fact.
Everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter and brighter than you and you can change it. You can influence it, you can build your own things that other people can use. Once you learnt that, you will never be the same again.
Mere intellect is not enough to learn to break the walls that others have built. Way back, coming back to America was for me much more of a culture shock than going to India.
The people in the Indian countryside don’t use the intellect as we do. They use their intuition instead, and their intuition is far more developed than it is in rest of the world. Intuition is a very powerful thing, more powerful than intellect. That has had a very big impact on my work.”
While in any stretch of imagination, we do not want to compare or wish ourselves to be beside the great men featured in this segment. But, we share one thing with them. A relentless quest to be a part of an outstanding product discovery in times to come.
Our team truly believes that when it comes to discovering something truly new and innovative, the only really valuable thing is intuition.
The intellect has little to do on the road to discovery. There comes a leap in consciousness, call it intuition or what you will, the solution comes to you and you don’t know how or why.
Our quest and passion would be to break conventional boundaries and reach out to uncontested frontiers to innovate products that would make people truly lead healthier lives.