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Idea Generator
for physicists, quantum mechanists, cosmologists, and string theorists
A resource of The Center for Creativity in the Sciences
by Win Wenger, Ph.D.
You may find it easier to print out this sector of our website,
so your computer is free to be used as a word-processor
as you work from the hardcopy instructions.

This is an application of Freenoting. To make this work for you, you need to Freenote. If you've not yet learned to Freenote, you may be able to from the brief instruction following immediately below. More extensive self-training instructions are posted here. The original publication of Freenoting technique is found in Chapter Two of Win Wenger's book, Beyond Teaching and Learning.

Crucial to remember as a scientist is to avoid the ad hominem fallacy, dismissing an idea or thesis because of who or what is suggesting it rather than treating it on its own merits. What matters is whether the hypothesis checks out, whatever its source, whether enough support is apparent for it to become a theory.

You need to be free to entertain any hypothesis, even if it's one you've come up with yourself, enough at least to check it out. The purpose of Freenoting is to enable you to come up with hypotheses very different from those you ordinarily would coax from already-too-cultivated grounds, to see with fresh eyes a field whose very familiarities are preventing you from discovering fresh answers.

Moiré pattern created by Jacob Yerex
"Growth" — Moiré pattern by Jacob Yerex

The role of scientific method is to pull weeds and let (relative) truths flower. But you need to allow fresh growth in order for this to be very productive. Generate hypotheses first, then weed among them. You don't have to be over the hill at age 30 as a cutting-edge researcher — you should just be getting warmed up!

Just don't confuse all of what you need to do as a creative scientist with being just the weed-pulling phase of "the scientific method"! Freenoting is one of the more potent among many very productive things you can do to heighten your scientific creativity and to improve your fluency of fresh ideas in order to have something worth the weeding.

How to Freenote, in brief
Freenoting is like a brainstorm in that you use it to generate a very high volume of output, initially without critical judgment. Some of that output may be throw-away, but some of it is valuable ideas and notions you might never have gotten to otherwise.

Your rapid discourse (without much repetition) onto a note pad (or computer keyboard if you type fast enough), or onto an audio tape, or even to a live listener, quickly uses up all that you'd normally say in the context. The continued rapid-flow "demand" of your flow will force you to draw upon resources beyond your stock conscious knowledge.

Force yourself to go on without pause or hesitation, force a vacuum into which can upwell some astonishing insights and relatings, many of them remarkably valid and original.

The key is to flow and sustain that flow. Flow faster than you can stop to consciously think what should come next. You've got to keep pumping without letup in order to keep up a good head of vacuum pulling up previously unconsidered associations and data.

Rules of Freenoting
  1. Keep that uncritical effusive flow going, without let-up. Rapidly speak, write or type without pause for 15-30 minutes, in the general context but without concern as to whether what you are writing is indeed in the context.

  2. Don't edit. If it occurs to you, get it down on tape or paper or into the computer, without hesitation, and keep going.

  3. Don't fear absurdity. Less of this output will be absurd than you might think! Some of what at first seems the most absurd will turn out to have some of the most original and valid elements of value somewhere embedded in it.

  4. Don't repeat too much. Keep reaching for something different to say in the context. But don't hang up over whether you've said something before — there may be a new association there with that old point. If it comes to mind, say it, get it down, get it expressed and recorded.

  5. Freenote without concern as to something being correct or accurate. Get it all down where you can look at it. Do your editing later, maybe even your secretive shredding later, but definitely not during this torrential flow. Free up as completely as you can during these free-noting intervals from editing your own thoughts and perceptions, by effusing as torrentially as possible.

  6. Your current ongoing perceptions will be somewhat more productive of fresh insights than is your stock of knowledge. Lean your attention somewhat, without editing, toward your ongoing perceptions, especially your ongoing sensory impressions. This will be easier if you speak in present tense, even where relating past events.
Most of our procedures are best when done with a live listener. That is an option also with Freenoting, but hard on the listener, who is in the position of "trying to drink from a firehose." Also, it is harder for some Freenoters to give themselves the necessary permission to be absurd, so they can flow freely without editing. Notepad or computer — if you can write or type fast enough — is preferred for Freenoting because it is easier that way to go back over what you've expressed to see what ideas and insights have emerged.

The above are the short-form instructions for how to Freenote. Some may need to pursue the general online instructions for Freenoting. We guarantee that Freenoting will result for you in many new ideas and insights and understandings (this is also an accelerated learning technique), many more worthy hypotheses among which to weed with the scientific method. Many of these you will find will turn out to be valid, some of them significant.

Indeed, in creativity training and practice, some of the more successful programs teach you to deliberately generate a few absurdities at first, that you will actually get a higher number and proportion of valid ideas resulting from so freeing yourself from self-editing.

Advanced Level
Now to take this forward another level into useful applications in your field of physics, quantum mechanics, string theory or other branch of physical science:

Objective:   to encourage you or let you encourage yourself by whatever means possible into making further breakthroughs in your work.
Method A:   Explain the most advanced concepts and fields to a young child.

Method B:   Correct the brash speculations of a student in your field.

Method C:   Brainstorm with teams using certain Project Renaissance techniques.

See also: Getting Far More & Better Learning for Less Effort  New !
You can more than double your rate of long-term retention of units of learning which substantially involve understanding, by one simple easy practice at the conclusion of that unit

These methods are described in detail in the following pages, with applications. Please click on the Methods or on "Continue."

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