Where Science Meets Muse

Niels Bohr and Creativity

Posted by Plish on October 11, 2008

Physicist Niels Bohr (1885-1962)  is the father of Quantum theory as he theorized that the electrons of an atom were in various shells of energy and they didn’t emit radiation unless they changed energy states- they jumped to another orbit level.  This Nobel Prize winner was once said:

“When it comes to atoms, language can be used only as in poetry. The poet, too, is not nearly so concerned with describing facts as with creating images.”


Bohr hits on two interesting points here.

1. The language of poetry.  Poetry is…well…poetic.  Its genius lies in being able to describe something with a wholistic precision when the language used is often less than precise.  Sounds paradoxical but that’s the genius of it.  That leads to point 2.

2. Poetic language creates images – and often many of them.  The words of poetry show us, almost in a simultaneous fashion, all the facets of a crystal at once, with all their perspectives in tact.

When your stuck and can’t think of anything, use crazy ideas to get the ball rolling, and try using poetry to describe your problem.  Let the poetry lead to images and from the images, connect them together, shuffle them around to concretize your ideas.

What do you think about Bohr’s statement and its implications to creative thinking?


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