The Internet has provided me quite a number of wonderful network possibilities. One of those was my meeting Roy Ackerman. He has been a staunch supporter, overall, of this blog and my creative writing one, Tale Spinning. He is also been one of the first people to point out spelling and grammatical errors. That is a good thing. 🙂
Roy is a very passionate individual. It comes through in what he writes on his own blogs and in the comments that he leaves all over. It is my pleasure to receive this and future guest blogs from him.He is a mensch. That is a very good thing.
# 2 in the Creativity Series
Roy Ackerman: Renaissance people
I went (with my entire class) to the Met (the Metropolitan Museum of Art) to see the Mona Lisa (didn’t everyone in the metropolitan New York area?). We already had spent a month in class learning about him, but I also bought a biography and studied it from cover to cover. I began writing all my lab journals backwards, just to emulate his practice. (Did I have anything worth stealing? Wouldn’t you have wanted to know!)
I studied his drawings for all sort of technological breakthroughs- helicopters, airplanes, devices of all sorts. I knew I could learn from him- and develop all sort of things. Da Vinci helped keep my focus on the development of an artificial kidney. And, like da Vinci, many of my designs could not make it because the technology was not yet available.
(In my case, technology may have been available to Bell Labs, but not some eleven year old working in his basement- but I had already managed to come up with more than a fair share of viable products.)
I knew that da Vinci had developed the principles I needed to learn. I have spent many a day studying creativity and genius. The key credos are: Nothing is ever good enough; Be curious about everything; Emotion is not the enemy of logic; and, There are some things to which the absolute answer cannot exist. (These principles, I might add, are not high on the list for most engineering doctoral programs, but that’s a subject for another discussion.)
Curiosity– Why do we do what we do? How can what we do be done better? faster? greener? cheaper? As espoused during many creative sessions- don’t discharge ideas immediately- give them a chance to gestate. Learn something new every day.
Prototype– Test your concept, and learn from your failures. Question your axioms- how can you be sure they are true? Pick a few heroes and learn from them- the positives and the negatives.
Sensation (use your five senses). Pay attention to colors, odors, smells, touches, and sounds. Amplify your daily experiences. Document what you feel.
Evanescence. This has always been my favorite word. It exudes the meaning. It’s how ambiguity leaves its mark. Don’t be afraid of things as they vanish- record your experiences and learn from them. And, just because they vanished, it does not mean what they offered for the moment was not true.
Art and Science in balance. There are four viewpoints to balance- emotion, imagination, logic, and practicality. Product design needs this in droves. I learned more about this mixture of innovation, art, and science when I was lucky enough to meet Sam Crosby, one of the finest industrial designers around.
Completeness– Develop versatility between grace and fitness for purpose. Use your other hand to write, to draw, for everyday activities. Force your brain to embrace all of your attributes. Recognize that everything is interconnected. What you do today affects your tomorrows.
Don’t be intimidated by the umbra of da Vinci. Be like the photo- use his work as your footstool.
The world needs way more than just one “Renaissance Man”
Have you met my friend Roy?: To be a catalyst is the ambition most appropriate for those who see the world as being in constant change, and who, without thinking that they can control it, wish to influence its direction. As an adjuvant, I want to enhance the benefits to all.
A polymath whose interests span chemical engineering, medicine, biotechnology, business, management, among other areas. Among my inventions/developments: dialyzer, dialysate, neurosurgical drill, respiratory inspirometer, colon electrolyte lavages, urinary catheters, cardiac catheters, water reuse systems, drinking water system, ammonia degrading microbes, toxic chemical reduction via microbes, onsite waste water treatment, electronic health care information systems, bookkeeping and accounting programs, among others.