Interesting science ideas, useful metaphors


In reading about the black art of creativity I have been struck that one of the big sources is taking an idea from one branch of knowledge, abstracting it as a metaphor and then applying it to another branch of knowledge to come up with surprisingly novel new ideas. The ideas might not even work, but they may spark new thoughts which would otherwise have been totally inaccessible.

I studied Chemistry to A-level, it went along with my aspirations to study Physics at University. Ever the Physics acolyte I was quite taken by physical chemistry, moreso than Organic, or Inorganic chemistry which to me seemed as interesting as learning French verb declensions.

I had a handle on volumes of gases before and after reactions, but what was new to me, and fascinating was the concept Rates of Reaction. School chemistry isn’t that complex, things usually go pop, or flare up. But the more sophisticated chemistry considers reactions leading to other reactions. What amazed me that the concentration of a chemical can have such a dramatic effect on the speed of a reaction. First, second, and third order reactions are sensitive to the concentration, its square, or cube respectively.

This whole idea I thought was amazing, and I imagine there are similarities with it elsewhere in the world. To some extent the usability of a web site depends on how fast the page can be got to the user and so is of great importance, but there is a lot of food for thought to think about things in terms of rates of reaction.

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~ by zeristor on April 15, 2010.

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