Empowering The Bicycle Traveler

“Sudden” Insights

I wonder if my experience is that much different from other bicyclers’.  Some of the time, or most of the time, after I have been out on my bicycle for a while, and usually when I am by myself, I will have an insight or a solution to a particular problem or situation which I am not even specifically thinking about at the time, but which I have been working on in everyday life. I recently came across a description of how this “eureka” moment comes about.

The Most Powerful Idea In The World is a book written by William Rosen and ostensibly about the Industrial Revolution, and the steam engine, but it’s just as much about invention and creativity and how insights to a problem can suddenly occur when the creator is not even “working” on the problem.

According to Rosen, people who study this sort of thing sometimes use “chaos theory to describe how neurons fire together. When a single neuron chemically fires it’s electrical charge, and causes it’s neighbors to do the same, the random electrical activity that is always present in the human brain can result in a “neuronal avalanche” within the brain”.

Most of this activity takes place in a part of the brain to which the blood flow is inhibited by most “normal” brain activity, i.e. the type of activity associated with everyday tasks such as (at least in modern day life) paying the power bill, going to the grocery store, and holding down a job. In short, survival. Likewise, early Homo Sapiens would not have had the luxury of being able to spend a lot of time daydreaming about new ways to start a fire.

Therefore, the human brain still does it’s best creative thinking when there is a sense of security or safety and relaxation. That might be why the  Greek dude who ran down the street naked shouting “eureka” was relaxing in the bathtub when he had his insight.

I thought this was an interesting description of a phenomenon I have always noticed to some degree when I’m riding my bike. And now, if you’ll excuse me, I think I will go do just that! (ride my bike that is..not run down the street naked)

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