Last night we watched the BBC drama about the development of radar through the work of Robert Watson-Watt and his team. How accurate the dramatisation was I don't know, that's a job for the historians. What I liked about the story was the portrayal of the creative process. Perhaps you have to be wired up a certain way to appreciate the way ideas developed as they sought solve the challenges they faced. For example, the problem of power. Solved not by sitting at a desk with a slide rule and sheet of paper, but by playing cricket on the beach.
This is the thing about creative thinkers, they have the imagination to connect dots into patterns that most people cannot see. But are they the only ones? Is it possible that we all have some ability to think outside the box, it's just that it's either been educated out of us or we've become to frightened of the consequences of failure to try it anymore? It's probably a bit of both, and it's rather.
Radar didn't just drop form the sky in a moment of absolute inspiration. It grew out of a project exploring the use of radio waves to detect storm clouds and thereby give pilots advance warning. But I still think the step forward marks Watson-Watt and his colleagues as giants upon whose shoulders we have the privilege of standing. Had he not conceived of the idea, would anyone else have done it?
It make me wonder whether some of the solutions to some of our problems, from the mundane to the world changing, are simply waiting for us to have the imagination of them. Maybe we need someone to start writing some inspirational science fiction that paints a picture of the future which is not about a burning, uninhabitable or inhospitable world, or a world fraught with technological or biological danger due to "science gone mad", and not some utopian dream gone right or wrong. Just a picture of a future full of possibilities that might stir our imagination and create some new solutions.
Okay, maybe that's a bit too prosaic for a Friday, but what about the challenges you face right now? If you could set your imagination free then perhaps you too could dream a solution that has so far eluded you. You just never know!