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The Complexity and Miracle of Human Creativity

In 1951, James Watson and Francis Crick pieced together the existing pieces of a scientific puzzle they had been working on for many years. What they discovered allowed them to see the basic building blocks of life for the first time in the history of mankind -- deoxyribonucleic acid – known by most people as DNA.1 DNA is a double-stranded molecule that encodes the genetic instructions used in the development and functioning of all known living organisms and many viruses.2

Cells are tiny — invisible to the naked eye — but each cell contains about 6 feet of DNA thread. There is a total of about 3 billion miles of DNA inside of each human! 3

Anthony Brandt, a composer and professor at Rice University’s School of Music, and David Eagleman, a neuroscientist and adjunct professor at Stanford University, wrote The Runaway Species: How Human Creativity Remakes the World. Their insights below reveal the scientific miracle of human creativity (p. 50):

Think of what nature is able to make by rearranging DNA: plants and fish that live in the deepest recesses of the ocean, animals that graze and prowl on land, birds that soar through the sky, organisms that thrive in hot or cold climates, at high or low altitude, in rainforests or the desert – all created from different combinations of the same four nucleotides.

Millions of species have come into being on our planet, from microscopic amoeba to building-size whales, all by reorganizing precedent. In the same way, our brains innovate thanks to a small repertoire of basic operations that alter and rearrange inputs. We take the raw materials of experience and then bend, break and blend them to create new outcomes. Set loose in the human brain, the three Bs provide an unending spring of new ideas and behaviors.

Other animals show signs of creativity, but humans are the standout performers. What makes us so? As we’ve seen, our brains interpose more neurons in areas between sensory input and motor output, allowing for more abstract concepts and more pathways through the circuitry.

What’s more, our exceptional sociability compels humans to constantly interact and share ideas, with the result that everyone impregnates everyone else with their mental seeds. The miracle of human creativity is not that new ideas appear out of thin air, but that we devote so much brain real estate to developing them.

Creativity is place where 21st Century Science and Wisdom of the Beginnings Principles intersect – in both creativity is a process that changes things that exist.


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Jim Myers


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