HUMINT: Mendeleev Sleep

MENDELEEV SLEEP: The development of the periodic table of the elements was a leap forward in the chemical sciences. Although not responsible for discovering the elements he knew existed, Mendeleev organized the information available to him like no one else before him. It was his organizational skills that revealed something critically important to the advancement of mankind. What he discovered was new! Mendeleev noticed patterns in the properties and atomic weights of halogens, alkali metals and alkaline metals. According to the legend, Mendeleev had written what he knew about existing elements on the equivalent of flash cards and organized, reorganized and reorganized them on his bedroom floor. Mendeleev had an unknown number of iterative organizing sessions interspersed with sleep cycles. Mendeleev let his brain do what brains do naturally by living with it. By absorbing the information and allowing his hardware to “crunch” the data, he could see the world in a new way. In order to complete the pattern he observed, Mendeleev predicted several new elements. Interestingly, months after Mendeleev published his periodic table of all known elements another one, virtually identical to Mendeleev’s was published. Mendeleev was born 1834. He was not a stellar student and was rejected by major universities. He died in 1907 in St. Petersburg, Russia from influenza.

ARTIFICIAL INTUITION: What is the Mendeleev story telling us about intuition? Do we know how a genius’ mind works? I think researchers do, but society doesn’t spend much time talking about how genius works. To be sure, we are always more interested in the discovered than the discoverer. What if we only considered how geniuses discover without considering what they discover? What if we (the observers of genius) were to dedicate every bit of our energy to how geniuses discover and nothing to their discovery? We would be talking about the mental mechanics of genius and how we might apply them to solve new problems. If average mortals could successfully emulate innovators, computer programmers probably wouldn’t be far behind them in terms of simulating the intuition process. In other words, computers could be programmed to innovate if and when a computer programmer (or someone a computer programmer knows) has a comprehensive familiarity with the process of intuition. Indeed we don’t spend much time talking about how our minds work, much less how the minds’ of geniuses work. We do know intuition is statistically predictable and therefore cannot be random phenomena. The problem with our current understanding of intuition is that as an individual experience it is not repeatable phenomena.

MOORE-HEISENBERG UNCERTAINTY: Once an individual discovers something new, it can’t be undiscovered. Intuition is not directly repeatable and therefore is not directly observable. In a population of people, intuition is occurring at a measurable rate for any given technology. For things like silicon semiconductor computer chip technology, intuition is accurately describable by Moore’s Law. “Almost every measure of the capabilities of digital electronic devices is linked to Moore's Law: processing speed, memory capacity, even the resolution of LCD screens and digital cameras.” Moore Law cannot select which individuals or companies in any industrial ecosystem will innovate. The Heisenberg Uncertainty Principal in “quantum physics states that the outcome of even an ideal measurement of a system is not deterministic, but instead is characterized by a probability distribution, and the larger the associated standard deviation is, the more "uncertain" we might say that that characteristic is for the system.”

BOILING DATA SOUP: Within an individual mind, a fundamental mixture of data must be present for a discovery to occur. Prescient awareness is about seeing patterns in the information as it’s processed. But how does information simmer in the mind? The living brain experiences waves of electro chemical activity named Beta, Theta, Alfa and Delta (Sleeping) waves. Theta waves are associated to expressions of intuition. Epiphanies might come during theta cycles but theta waves are not necessarily the creative phase of cognition. In any case, we are talking about output during particular brain waves. What if we were to look at how geniuses solve problems, in terms of seeing the data they have to see to solve the problem they are working on while experiencing all of their neurological phases? I bet we would see that they are fully invested in solving a problem. In other words, geniuses may work on problems they are obsessed with during their Beta, Theta, Alfa and Delta phases.

HUMINT: Inspiring an intuitive response requires emersion in the variables necessary to reveal previously undiscovered patterns. Before a discovery, it is impossible to tell how many variables are needed to illicit an intuitive response. Someone trained to detect patterns may need less information than individuals with no training at all. Inversely, a pattern that someone who is trained to recognize patterns expects to see in their data may not exist at all. Indeed, the human mind is notorious for chasing dangerous illusions. What is important to note is that the process of discovery occurs naturally, most likely across all neurological states, including Beta, Theta, Alfa and Delta phases. Find the passion for your problem that Mendeleev had for chemical elements and go to sleep with them! One day, you’ll know the answer, or at least the pattern pointing to it.

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