Consider Einstein… We need not be geniuses of Einstein’s calibre in order to appreciate how his divergent thinking led to scientific breakthroughs and facilitated significant social and artistic enlightenment.
Like us Aspies, Einstein loved solitude. Walter Isaacson reports in his biography Einstein, that as a child Einstein would often sit alone, working on puzzles, creating complex structures with his building set or playing with his steam engine.
Max Talmud, a young medical student who visited the Einstein home regularly, reported that he never saw Einstein playing with other boys his age. It seemed that Einstein preferred to think through mathematical problems and theorems, and to ponder the mysteries of nature, in isolation.
As a result of spending so much thoughtful time alone, working through problems that intrigued him, Einstein had an empowering revelation at age twelve. He grasped that through reasoning alone, without the help of any external experience, it was possible to ascertain fundamental truths.
Being an outsider is the very quality which enabled Einstein to posit so many ground-breaking theorems.
His ability to conceive of the operating laws of space, time and gravity were only possible because he had the intellectual range as well as the moral courage to question established scientific ‘truths’ such as Newtonian Law, which hitherto had been the cornerstone of physics.
But, the key to the recognition of his brilliant accomplishments was not only Einstein’s intellect and aloofness. Equally important was sharing his ideas and observations within the existing structure of the scientific community, proposing ways in which his theorems could be tested by others. In this way, his work was honed to perfection.
If he had been working on his theorems alone, with no support from the scientific community, his work would doubtless not be renowned today.
If you have a passion, pursue it! Connect with others who are as interested and creative as yourself.
Sharpen your mind by clearly conceptualizing the ideas which arise from your passion, then share them so they can be explored, tested, appreciated and validated by others.
Be sure you fully understand what you are embracing and promoting.
Einstein had the respect of his peers not because he was popular, (he wasn’t at first), but because he was intelligent, honest and loyal. He developed a close association with two or three intellectuals, and it was through the garnering of their respect and loyalty that his theorems were able to be proven and widely accepted.
While Einstein needed solitude to develop his theories and the proofs which would validate them, he understood that he also needed a broad social network–the entire scientific community. Scientists in England, Holland, Switzerland and Germany helped him prove aspects of his Theory of Relativity.
Likewise, we Aspies need solitude to ponder, define and organize our thought processes, to connect intuitively with compelling ideas and notions which resonate with us.
But we also need the appropriate social network to help us refine, test and ultimately validate our intellectual endeavours.
When his theory of relativity was proven beyond any doubt by a British astronomer in Holland, Einstein merely commented:
“The intimate union between the beautiful, the true and the real have again been proved. It is a gift from gracious destiny that I have been allowed to experience this…”
Besides his intellect, Einstein’s two greatest assets were his unique childlike and intuitive curiosity about the universe, and his sense of humility, reflected in his charm and his humour.
Hmmm … perhaps Einstein was an Aspie too …
MJ Adam & RS Warrington