Recently, I came across an article that claims gorillas, when given cocaine, lie more often. Like many items on the Internet, the story didn’t provide any good information, nor did it enlighten me. It was good click-bait, though.
I do wonder who came up with the idea that gorillas should be given cocaine. Why gorillas? Why illicit drugs? Wouldn’t it be more constructive to give the drug to politicians to chart their truth deficits? What was going on inside the researchers’ heads?
Then I pondered very creative historical figures. People like Leonardo da Vinci. I can think of very few people of any era who came up with so many original ideas. Wouldn’t it be great to travel back in time to interview him?
Some sources for ideas seem obvious. People have looked at insects and birds then wondered how we might also fly. Observation and mimicking eventually led to da Vinci’s studies of bird wings. This, in turn, inspired him to design a rudimentary flying machine.
If one discounts some sort of “divine” source, we stand in awe of someone who came up with advanced weaponry, work tools, flying machines, water works, and more. Leonardo da Vinci was not even a scientist, by training. His inventive method was a blend of his artistic background and his observational curiosity.
It is thought that da Vinci was a uniquely holistic, integrated person who blended his painterly skills of detail with his inate curiosity about the world around him.
Because of these factors Leonardo can be thought of as one of the founders of modern science. To detail the depth and scope of da Vinci’s ideas has taken volumes of scholarly writing by those who followed him.
We can extend the concept of recording details of observation to that of analogies. Compare a boulder to a pebble or a loaf of bread to a morsel and we can come up with more analogies. This is how Thomas Edison came up with movies. Just as sound can be reproduced mechanically, so can the visual qualities of light.
To use analogy successfully, a thinker has to really stretch across traditional categories. The longer the stretching of the comparison, the more likely the thinker is to discover an astonishing new idea.
However, we are left to wonder where the idea for a phonograph arose. Sometimes there is nothing to compare or analogize. Some new ideas seem to be unique, incomparable leaps in thought. Why did the inventors think we needed a way to record and preserve sounds? Why did they think we needed a method to record and preserve images?
This brings us to mundane ideas, like who invented the modern pizza? Pizza, as we know it today, was apparently the idea of Raffaele Esposito of Naples, Italy in 1889. One legend says that he originally created three different pizza pies. Visiting Queen Margheritta is said to have preferred the dish that included the colors of the Italian national flag. That is tomato red, basil green, and mozzarella cheese white. Whether or not the legend is true is moot, because somebody, somehow came up with the idea for this charming story.
This brings me back to the puzzle about why somebody decided to give cocaine to gorillas. We humans have very strange ideas, don’t we?
The Blue Jay of Happiness quotes Walt Disney. “Our heritage and ideals, our code and standards–the things we live by and teach our children–are preserved or diminished by how freely we exchange ideas and feelings.”