original thought

Sabine Dippel sabine at hlrz28.zam.kfa-juelich.de
Fri Aug 9 09:01:20 EST 1996

The question of "what is original thought? can one learn it?" came up 
here some time ago, and finally I think I'll comment, too. The problem
is that we seldom think of our own ideas as being original, because in 
the first place, we had these ideas and so they occurred as quite 
natural to us. To others, the same idea may seem original, simply 
because they didn't see the chain of associations or other ideas that
brought it about.

I do not consider myself as an original thinker, rather as someone 
who looks at things very closely, and digs as deep as necessary (or
possible) to find an explanation for certain things - rather boring, huh?
However, my masters thesis advisor puts into letters of recommendation for
me a phrase like "she has a very original way of approaching problems."
I don't know if he is right, but now, in my PhD thesis, it has happened 
again that I started to extend certain things already done by other people,
but then discovered many interesting aspects (and some explanations) they 
had completely overlooked. Some may call that original - I don't, I only 
call it digging deep enough. But I think that in the end that's what it's 
all about. Someone else here mentioned what I think is very important -
how much really original thought do you see in science? Isn't it very often
the case that the really original new things were discovered by coincidence
(and someone being there who _saw_ them)?

My 2 cents,


| Sabine Dippel     | e-mail: s.dippel at kfa-juelich.de                | 
| HLRZ              | phone : [++49] (2461) 61-2318                  | 
| KFA Juelich       | fax   : [++49] (2461) 61-2430                  | 
| 52425 Juelich     | WWW   : http://w3.hlrz.kfa-juelich.de/~sabine/ | 
| Germany           |                                                | 

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