Sunday, December 10, 2006

Thoughts on thinking

Ever think about the form in which you think? I have been lately. As I type this I'm thinking in words, more or less. But I also sometimes think in pictures, both static and moving. Or mixtures of words and pictures. Although I haven't talked to people about this, I suspect this is true for many people. But those aren't the only forms in which I think...

When I think about my science, my research, I think in molecules. Spinning, writhing, twisting, tumbling molecules. Amino acids, peptides and proteins. Water and ions. Atoms bonded to one another, interacting with bangs, thumps and bright colorful sparks. Molecules dancing around one another, twisting in knots. Crashing into one another. Sticking to each other like tiny fragments of velcro, or being flung apart by rainbow sheets of repulsive energy.

I see a weird and wonderful world in my head that cannot be seen using existing technology. This of course can be a bit of a problem for me. I can "see" in my head how some of the systems I work on behave, but I don't have the tools in the laboratory required to measure what I see. This can be frustrating. Of course what I see in my head could be wrong. But I don't think it can be completely wrong. My molecule thoughts have their basis in what I've found during my research, what I've read, and from talking to fellow scientists. I think my molecule thoughts are more right than wrong. But I can't prove it.

There are many scientists who would respond to my admission by deriding it as pure fantasy, nonsense, or the product of a disturbed mind (which it may well be). Not, I'd wager, those whom I admire, whose work has, and continues to have, profound influence upon mine. They might think in molecules. Or they might not. It doesn't matter. They would understand.

So there you have it. I'm weirder than you thought, if that's possible. Accept it, move on, and tell me, in what forms do you think?

Word of the post:


A sense that something is about to occur; a premonition.


mouthfulofpancake said...

Interesting! I haven't thought about how I think before. I definately think in moving pictures for the majority of the time. Not sure what I do when I play music. When I dance I don't think.

JollyRgr said...

I understand where you are coming from....I think in images both moving and still and I also think in sound.....I hesitate to say it....speech (no laughing thank you!!).

I discuss and rationalise in conversation or debate in my mind.

It doesn't make any of us weird...just individuals

Odyssey said...

Ah, yes. The conversations with the voices in your head. :-) I think I have those too every now and then.

I'm not sure what it means when you don't think when you're dancing, sis. I guess you're either on autopilot, or you're thinking in dance... Pretty cool either way.

mouthfulofpancake said...

Oh yeah the voices!! I was trying to deny that they were there. They are definately part of my thought process! I discuss and rationalise out loud sometimes (in the car with the windows up!!). When I dance, I can't really explain it, I must think but its more of a case of doing it than thinking about it. Confused?
How did you come up with this one bro?????

Odyssey said...

How did I come up with this one? Don't know. I've known for some time that I can think in molecules, but hadn't really thought about it until the last week or so. I think sleep deprivation due to a certain baby not sleeping all night yet might have something to do with it. Or maybe not. :-)

Anonymous said...

I think mostly in words - sometimes in molecules, too. However, I'm clearly not as imaginative as you since I don't have sparks or mini-explosions. Probably because you drink more beer. ;o)

Odyssey said...

Actually too much beer leads to the atoms exposing their neutrons, which I really would rather they didn't. Not a pretty sight...