Updated: May 2, 2019
I am going to start this post by saying that I am not a genius, nor do I claim to be one. I also don't want to sound condescending or that I know more than anyone else. There. Glad that's off my chest. Now let me tell you how to think...
Depicted here is a visual of light rays bending due to gravitational waves. Pretty sick actually if you think about it, it's amazing how we discovered that light acts like a wave, but also like a particle too. This is one of the many simple, yet completely game-changing finds in our history of humanity. The first step in understanding complex ideologies and theories, or hell, even understanding basic math, is coming to terms with the fact that humans are flawed. Now you may be asking yourself, why would knowing that humans are flawed have any correlation to me learning anything. For me, it's all about my personal understanding of what I already know vs. what's to be learned about that subject. If you go into anything thinking that most people are way smarter than you, or that they probably had a 4.0 in grad school and you just went to public school, then you are already setting yourself up for a demoralizing adventure into the unknown. It's true that everyone learns at their own pace, but one thing is certain, people that have an interest and passion in learning something tend to learn quicker, and understand more - simply because they are willing to learn and excited to learn. One of my favorite quotes of all time is "I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious" - Einstein
So lets apply this to Stephen Hawking's theories on black holes. Anyone would argue that Hawking was a genius, the guy could calculate quantum propositions in his head. One thing stuck out like a sore thumb with Hawking's theories, and that wasn't their proof or accuracy - No - It was the fact that every time something clicked in his head and he figured something new out, he always set off to disprove it before anyone else could. Hawking knew humans are flawed, he knew probably better than anyone else on earth, and he would try his hardest to disprove a theory simply because he wanted to make sure it was a valid, rational, and an accurate assumption. Every great scientist should know that being proven wrong is just as good as figuring something out. Being proven wrong and taking it personally is yet another human flaw. We experience jealousy, anger, resentment, defeat! How dare someone challenge me! I spent years of my life figuring it out only to be proven wrong! - What they don't see sometimes, is that by spending years of your life proving something right to be proven wrong, is a beautiful thing. Think of it this way, if you didn't spend years of your life proving it right, then who would prove it wrong and make progress? Isn't it better to have made some progress if no progress at all? Which comes to my second point in learning how to logically figure things out - Don't be afraid of failure, accept it as a way to learn.
“I have not failed 10,000 times. I have not failed once. I have succeeded in proving that those 10,000 ways will not work. When I have eliminated the ways that will not work, I will find the way that will.” - Thomas Edison
School was particularly hard for me, a lot of the time I felt like I was actually intelligent at the things I liked and terribly stupid at things I didn't like. And I wish a teacher made the correlation and just told me, so it didn't take me 24 years to figure out that I am a smart guy! I can honestly say I am intelligent, everyone technically is. The way we tend to portray intelligence is actually the first two picture of this blog. Things that most people think only a genius can grasp. It's really not true, I know people who have a hard enough time formulating a good sentence day to day but know almost everything about cars. How the engine works, how the tires alternate, what the best way to maintain it is. Now if that same guy knew all there was to know about black holes, and nothing about cars, he'd have awards and be on television - all because of the way we portray intelligence. Actually, thinking about it now.. Knowing everything about cars is way more practical day to day than black holes, but I digress. Learn what you have passions for and it will come to you naturally.
One of my own biggest flaws is figuring something out and putting it behind me. To master something, you must see it from every single angle possible, even upside down and reverse. It may sound silly, but think about it like this: Lets use a Rubiks cube as an example. You watch a Youtube video on how to solve one. The guy on the screen tells you about algorithms (predetermined moves that always yield the same sort of result) they tell you that if you get a couple pieces in a particular spot and follow these directions (R U R L R' R L') That it will figure it out for you. What's actually intelligent here.. Memorizing the algorithm or knowing how moving the sides of a cube affect it? Sure, speed cubers can solve them extremely fast, and yes, they have invested countless hours of memorizing algorithms. However, there will always be a gap in time between robots and humans solving them - regardless of speed. Why is that? It all has to do with the way we chose to learn the cube. We chose to take 500ish algorithms to learn instead of 4.3 Quintilian (4.3×1019) possible permutations and solutions. It would take a human more than a lifetime to memorize all of those, and a computer a couple hours.
So lets talk about the new world record vs. what a computer can do. Human: 3.47 seconds vs Computer: 0.637 seconds - You know, for a human, that's incredibly close all things considered. Why is that? Shouldn't algorithms take a little while longer? Well I mean, I would say 1-2 seconds off his time is luck, and the other 1-2 seconds is the part where intelligence comes to play, intuitive solving. Lets go back to that Youtube video idea for a second. Who do you think would win in a speed solving competition after 1 day of learning how to solve one - a 13 year old boy who followed a Youtube tutorial and memorized some algorithms? or a 13 year old girl who had no directions but was passionately curious about it. Well the boy of course, boys are smarter than girls. case settled.
I'm joking... I can feel your blood pressure spiking already, take a deep breath. It's still the boy though. And this folks, is why I sucked at public school! Let me explain: The boy obviously has a huge advantage over the girl because he can memorize the steps easily, and he may get a little better over time, but for a long long time he will always be looking at the cube as a bunch of algorithms and not what it really is, a twisty puzzle that moves seamlessly around as you twist it. Provided the girl was genuinely excited to learn it and tried her hardest, she is the one with the real advantage. You see, she will start to notice things like - As she moves the puzzle, no matter what she does the middles always stay the same orientation. Just like that, she has figured out how to solve 6 pieces already! She also noticed the same with edges and corners. So she can now understand the anatomy of the cube. She learns while trying to solve one of the sides that the edge pieces need to be aligned with their centers, or else she will run into a road block later on.. etc.
She chose to understand how it works and doesn't stop learning because she is excited to learn and thinks this is really fun! There is no way she could solve it in a day on this method. The boy will surely win that battle, but she won the war. You see, she understands it better than anyone now and makes her own, faster, and more intuitive algorithms. This girl is real... Her name is Jessica Fridrich. Look her up, it's an awesome story. She took her understanding of the cube and applied her own passion for speed solving to it, and since 1980, shes been unmatched for methods, it's one of the best and fastest methods of solving to date, and I am pretty sure it always will be. This comes to my final conclusion. Understand how it works by from the bottom up.
I think this one needs a tiny bit of explaining. Lets use the example of website development - There are so many tools out there for you to create a website fast and effectively. You click and drag a box onto a blank Webpage view and for some reason it doesn't work the way you wanted it to. You have now limited yourself by doing this because you had an idea for that box that the company providing the tools didn't see. I mean sure, you can send them a nasty email about how inefficient there block is at doing what you wanted it to do, but had you taken the time to understand the correlation between what that box is used for and the actual code running it, you could make your own innovations! That's what I mean.