Think Like a Nobel Prize Winner | Dr. Brian Keating

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Key Takeaways

  • “Every activity of man is amazingly complicated, not only that of the genius: but none is a miracle” – Brian Keating quoting Friedrich Nietzsche
    • Brian’s goal is to humanize science in a way for everyone to explore and understand complex topics about themselves and the nature of the world we live in through the experiences of Nobel Peace Prize winners
      • “Understanding science is hard enough, understanding scientists is even harder” – Barry Barish
        • Translating science into general and public utility is extremely valuable
        • Physicists can be great teachers – problem solvers by design, non-biased observers of reality
    • Many of the greatest thinkers in history often struggle with the same interpersonal, emotional, and mental struggles that we all do
  • We need the scientific method more today than ever.
    • The mental models associated with the scientific method are applicable far outside of a research lab, they help us analyze the world around us
    • “Science belongs to all of us” – Brian Keating
  • Don’t expect homework or scientific equations from Into the Impossible: Think Like a Nobel Prize Winner, just actionable intelligence
    • Examples of resilience, patience, courage
    • Learn how to deconstruct problems in your life
    • Find meaning in your interactions and your struggles
    • Why it’s essential to immerse yourself in the history of your craft but to also invest in the future of your field
    • Valuing the mission for the mission’s sake rather than accolades and attention
    • Allow curiosity to bring you joy

Intro

  • Dr. Brian Keating (@DrBrianKeating) is a Distinguished Professor of Physics at the University of California, San Diego. Brian is also an author and podcast host, exploring the boundaries of innovation, imagination, and intellectual curiosity. Brian discusses his new book and how everyone can successfully utilize the wisdom and mental models that award-winning scientists use everyday.

Curiosity Killed the Cat, But Not the Scientist

  • Insatiable curiosity – the one thing that the nine Nobel Prize winning scientists in his book have in common
    • A strong desire to understand the known and explore the unknown
  • We need the scientific method more today than ever.
    • Applicable in many ways outside of the lab: how to evaluate alternate truths and fake news, inductive and deductive reasoning for knowledge advancement, and more
    • Establish truth for societal questions: Global warming implications, Covid vaccine effectiveness, etc.
  • “Understanding science is hard enough, understanding scientists is even harder” – Barry Barish
    • Science is most universally helpful when presented in a way that is understood and has general utility

Barry Barish and Imposter Syndrome

  • Barry Barish claims to suffer from imposter syndrome even after reaching the highest scientific honor
    • Many of the greatest thinkers in the world feel inadequate as compared to their role models
      • Einstein felt inadequate compared to Isaac Newton
    • We can never fully overcome the inadequacy formed from imposter syndrome, but we can manage it. Understanding and accepting your work through its value, not comparison.

Think Like a Nobel Prize Winner

  • Into the Impossible: Think Like a Nobel Prize Winner is not for aspiring Nobel Prize winners.
    • Brian specifically wrote it for non-scientists, as he wants to humanize science in a way for everyone to explore and understand big picture complex topics
    • Presents common themes across interviews with nine Nobel Prize winners to boost your creativity, stoke your imagination, and overcome barriers to success (imposter syndrome)
      • Deconstruct the scientist’s mental habits to share their internal wisdom
      • We have more commonalities with the mental struggles as award-winning scientists than we tend to think
  • In the Russian language, ‘scientist’ translates to ‘one who was taught”
    • Brian’s motive for this book is to fulfill a moral obligation to provide people with knowledge to reach their full potential by translating these scientists’ research into life lessons
    • The tools used to win the Nobel Prize can be applied to everyone’s habits, mental models, overcoming prejudices, and more
  • None of the recipients of the Nobel Prize were ever driven by the ambition to win the prize
    • This makes them great role models – the process can be more valuable than the reward
    • Teams are rewarded infrequently. This is a flaw of the system as it overlooks the value of team achievement and the opportunity for improved diversity.

What to Expect from the Book

  • The lessons can stand independent from the intricacies of the scientific research
    • Although, Brian still presents the research for those interested
    • Choose your own adventure! Feel free to read in whatever order is interesting to you
  • Communication and emotional intelligence actually tend to be more important in physics than pure mathematical computation
    • Each interview ends with a lightning round of questions to understand the interpersonal traits of each scientist
  • Keep an eye out for reoccurring themes:
    • The powers of curiosity
    • Listening to your critics
    • Pursuing ‘useless’ goals
  • No homework or equations, just actionable intelligence:
    • Examples of resilience, patience, courage
    • Learn how to deconstruct problems in your life
    • Find meaning in your interactions and your struggles
    • Why it’s essential to immerse yourself in the history of your craft but to also invest in the future of your field
    • Valuing the mission for the mission’s sake rather than accolades and attention
    • Allow curiosity to bring you joy
  • Why learn from physicists?
    • They are problem solvers by design, non-biased observers of reality
    • True generalists – pulling tools from art, mathematics, philosophy, etc.
    • Their goal is to make sense of the universe and our place in it
    • The scientific method is the most powerful tool to analyze the world around us
      • “Science belongs to all of us”– Brian Keating

Into the Impossible : , , ,
Notes By Drew Waterstreet

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