Monday, April 12, 2010

G for Genius!

Talent hits a target no one else can hit; Genius hits a target no one else can see.    - Arthur Schopenhauer

Alright! Call it the effect of the bloggers' meet yesterday or something, I suddenly get the mood to write regularly (yeah, I call two posts in 2 consequent days regular :P). Anyway, it's been nice - going through peoples' blogs and finding some excellent work done by each of them. Kudos to y'all!! And of course, keep the good work going!!

So, another post. The title might suggest something about Parle-G biscuits, but no! This ain't got anything to do with any confectionery or something on those lines. I literally mean G for Genius as the title. Well, this is about Genius. Have you ever wondered how generously we use the adjective? I've been thinking for a while now and the answer is not good. Let me illustrate what I'm trying to say here. If a person gets more marks than you - genius. If someone can answer something esoteric you have no idea about - genius. If someone discovers something, however insignificant, - genius. B the W, I'm watching the DC match and hope we recover soon and make like a 180 runs. Fingers Xed on that area. :).  OK, genius, huh?? I simply don't like people call just anyone that. This post is where I try to describe what genius actually means to me. So, when you're around me, try to adhere to these rules before tagging someone a genius :P.

I draw upon a little bit of tutelage from Roger Penrose (author of A Road to Reality). I believe that, some things simply exist - in kind of a Platonic sense of existence (please don't ask me more about this. :P). Well, anyway, the thing about such things is, they are just there. It is not like the person who uncovers them is doing a great act in trying to find something that is already there. (Refer Mandelbrot plots here, they simply existed, like forever and Mandelbrot was just he person to uncover the underlying beauty...) With all due respect to all the great inventors and discoverers, most of them aren't anything close to genius. They might have been intelligent and persevering hard-workers, but genius, I don't think so! 

Let me give you some examples of people who are in my view, tagged genius rather liberally. The first, may be the oldest - the wheel. We all larn that the wheel was tone of the most ingenious inventions. But, on second thought, it is kind of obvious. Let us say Mr.X (or may be Ms. X, for all non-sexists like me...) invented the wheel. The fact of the matter remains that, eventually, someone would stumble upon the idea to make a circular thing. Same goes for Aryabhatta, who is credited with the "invention" of zero. Come on people! Definitely, i wouldn;t tag Aryabhatta a genius, if not him, someone, somewhere might definitely have stumbled upon the idea of having a number which had no value (tell me about it, Indians have a knack at these things - we like getting things for free, right?) Then there is the probably the biggest speculator of all time - Sir Newton. Gravity, they tell me, makes him a genius. But think about it twice,the idea of gravity can be attributed mainly to his being in the right place at the right time. So, I'm sure I made my point clear here, as to what kind of people do not qualify for the tag of genius.

Now, the obvious question. Who is a genius? I'll try my best to put my idea in good words here. A genius is a person, whose ideas and maybe inventions affect the world in such a way that - when the later generations look at the ideas, they go like what the heck was this fellow thinking? How the hell could anyone get this vague an idea. In simple words, the idea should be simple but so out-of-the-world that, no one would think about it unless they go mad. Like someone says, Genius is just another level of insanity, :P. Anyway, time for examples. The first one that comes to mind is Nikola Tesla. The man single-handedly formulated wireless communication (you might say Marconi did that, but the patent for Radio was later corrected to Tesla's name in 1943), the AC motor, Alternating Current itself and wireless electricity (not one of his successful ventures, I'd say...). Da Vinci is another. Then there are several authors who get into this category of genius-ness. Shakespeare, Tolkein, Milton, Crichton, Clarke and many others. Then there are mathematicians - Hawking, Penrose, Feynman, and how can I forget Einstein. Then there is the person who got the idea of a microprocessor - there wasn't anything analogous to that in earlier times, was there? Also on the list would be Page/Brin for Google and Zuckerberg for Facebook. And of course, Tim Berners Lee for the Internet!

Alright then, I take leave! Please don;t call undeserving people genius, for me at least. :P. And for any disputes, please refer to the disclaimer under the title of the blog. :D. Finally, i think it is important to draw a proper line between genius and geek.

Keep Rocking!!


  1. did u just say Newton was just at the right place at the right time??
    comm'm, give him some credit. what is obvious today need not have been obvious then. besides, he has made other great contributions too.
    p.s. i totally agree with you that 'genius' is one of the most liberally used words that shouldn't be.

  2. i never not-gave credit to Newton, all i was saying that, if not him, gravity would have been obvious to someone at some other time. I agree with Newton's other contributions, he was way ahead of his time, but in the case of the discovery of gravity - you gotta give me the fact that it would have been obvious to someone if not him! That part of his being called a genius was what I was talking about.. :)

  3. P.S.: I never meant to undermine some of the other observations/contributions. Just the gravity thingy :P

  4. "someone would stumble upon the idea to make a circular thing"

    The statement reviewd and put in urdu/ hindi,

    maine agar HOTHA THA, THO kartum THA, nahin HOTUM THA THO bhi KARSAKTUM THA.

    THA and THO makes a lot of difference. You dont count genius by an invention but the hardships you undergo to produce it.

  5. @faizy: what u r talking about is about a talented person working hard...genius as i put it is someone who gets to things that people before him/her (sometimes even those after them) cannot even start to for example, the fantstic worlds of the LotR saga or the immensely natural beauty of Shakespearean works. On the other hand, when you go about a 1000 years from now, it wouldn't matter if Newton discovered gravity in the 17th century or the 19th... For a better tirade on Newton, plz contact me personally...

  6. When did people start praising geeks! I wont call them(us?) genius :D .. Nice one! I wonder if we can call Gandhi that because only he thought that violence cannot get rid of the British...