I think the term “blew me away” is really overused, but in this case, I believe it’s exactly the right fit.
Several weeks ago there was a story which was briefly in the news, about a fifteen-year-old boy who might be responsible for saving your life one day. Jack Andraka, from Baltimore, Maryland, came up with an early detection system for pancreatic, ovarian, and lung cancer. His system, which is modeled on a similar idea to test strips diabetics use for checking their blood sugar, detects elevated levels of a particular protein in the blood or urine. It is dramatically cheaper, faster and more sensitive than current methods.
He was the 2012 winner of the grand prize at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair, which awarded him $75,000.
There’s a good chance you’re wondering why this is showing up in a forum about art and creativity. When asked about the simplicity of his system he said:
“I think this echoes the message: you don’t have to come up with a super fancy, complicated method, sometimes, it’s just thinking creatively. That’s going to be the new literacy of this new age; how you think will replace your knowledge.”
Could there be a better illustration for the value of creative thinking?
While other much more trained and knowledgeable researchers are struggling to come up with intricate answers, this far less seasoned young man came in with a wholly fresh approach to a daunting challenge … and the chutzpah to follow through.
The next time someone tries to pass off creativity and art play as frivolous or not serious stuff you might remind them that this kind of thinking, is as serious as it gets.
If you want some backup, you might trot out Albert Einstein:
“Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.”
Be sure to check out Melanie’s previous blog posts and podcasts:
Melanie Rothschild is a self-taught artist whose elaborate interior accessories have been sold in stores throughout the United States including Neiman-Marcus, the shops at the Smithsonian Institution, the John Michael Kohler Arts Center and hundreds of others for almost two decades. Her work is shown in fine art galleries and has been licensed to Target. She considers moxie, an irreverent nature, and a respect for mistake-making to be the tools of her trade. Melanie has a master’s degree in the Study of Creativity and an undergrad degree in Anthropology. She is from and lives in Los Angeles.
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