Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Flashes from the Past: "He was a bit of a dud in math..."

In school, he seemed to be a bit of a dud in math, and in fact he was held back one year when he had trouble learning mental math. He was rescued in his teenage years when an insightful teacher realized he needed more time.

"I used to take these maths tests which were supposed to be done in one period and it took me not just that period but the next one which was a play period and somethimes the one beyond that before I finished the test. And it was only then that I started to do well."

Who was this super-slow thinker? This was Roger Penrose, now mathematician and physicist, discoverer of Penrose tilings, and author of many original thoughts in geometry, relativity, quantum mechanics, and theories of consciousness. It seems that if you are a slow thinker, you may still think well.

Offered Penrose, "My own way of thinking is to ponder long and I hope deeply on problems and for a long time which I keep away for years and years and I never really let them go. I'm pretty tenacious when it comes to prob"People think of these eureka moments and my feeling is that they tend to be little things, a little realisation and then a little realisation built on that."

And "...these little things may not seem like much but after a while they take you off on a direction where you may be a long way off from what other people have been thinking about."

Penrose Interview

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