To think what no one has thought

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

To overcome inertia and discover or invent new directions we must forsake old previously-used formulas and imagine new ones.

This is not an easy task, because with all of the available information an accurate diagnostic must be made of the situation that we seek to change, but then, to find the appropriate treatment now, the magnificent instruments currently at our disposal won’t work: only reflection, only the exercise of the creative powers of the human species will.

I have told this story many times, because it has been so relevant for me and my colleagues, and not only from a scientific perspective: I was working late one Friday evening in the department of Professor Hans Krebs at Oxford. He had returned to his office to get some documents that he had forgotten and observing the light in my laboratory, he dropped by to see me and asked me why I was there so late… “At the University of Granada”, I explained, “we don’t have this magnificent equipment. I am collecting as much data as possible…” “From now on you will add Fridays to your weekends to have more time in which to reflect”, he replied. And he added, “research is observing what others also observe… while thinking what no one else has thought”.

We won’t be able to advance and perceive the radical changes that are required by using machines, but rather by thinking, by using this capacity that is exclusively ours, refusing to tolerate any attempts to distract, numb or undermine our creativity.

To think what no one has thought…