The Best Ideas Arise from a Passionate Interest in Commonplace Things

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The best ideas arise from a passionate interest in commonplace things

Mankind has demonstrated a profound ability to draw inspiration from even the most mundane situations and surroundings. Throughout history, the commonplace has often spurred uncommon achievements for impassioned thinkers including Archimedes, Leonardo da Vinci and Isaac Newton. In modern times, the scientific community increasingly gleans groundbreaking ideas from the natural world in the emerging field of biomimicry. Archimedes’ eureka moment in the bath is the stuff of legend, but it is unlikely the great mathematician and inventor would have delivered the famed remark without pursuing his profound interest in hydrodynamics and the intertwined relationships of buoyancy and displacement. On one hand, water was (and remains) a ubiquitous presence for the seafaring Greeks. Likewise, anyone who has watched a child in the bathtub can relate to the simple joys it affords. Archimedes eponymous principle, however, took a natural interest in water and floating bodies several steps further to determine whether a crown was made of solid gold and better define the laws of physics. Leonardo da Vinci, the archetypal Renaissance Man, was unquestionably inspired by commonplace things throughout his feverishly productive life. One must look no further than the genius’s manuscripts and notebooks for evidence that da Vinci was intensely curious about some of the world’s most ordinary elements. Studies of the human body, certainly among the most familiar of forms, are likely the master’s most replicated composition. Perhaps it is no coincidence the Italian’s Vitruvian Man pen-and-ink sketch ranks among the most well-known and reproduced drawings in the world. Whether Leonardo’s passion and interest in reproducing the human body contributed to his other innovations and inventions beyond art is difficult to assess, but one thing is certain: da Vinci’s unquenchable thirst for knowledge of his earthly...
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