‘You can’t use up creativity, the more you use the more you have’ Maya Angelou
Creativity @ Home is an Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) initiative to generate and nurture new and creative ways of thinking that can potentially lead to transformative research. The Reactive Plasmonics Creativity @ Home journey started on a sunny October day at the Strand Campus of King’s College London.
Dennis Sherwood from Silver Bullet Machine led a fantastic day where creativity was explained using Koestler’s Law. Many people believe that creativity strikes out of the blue, like a bolt of lightning and that genius just happens. This means that some people tend go through life believing that they ‘aren’t creative’ and therefore don’t get the chance to present new ideas. Dennis explained that being creative is taking things that already exist and asking the question ‘How might things be different?’
‘The creative act is not an act of creation in the sense of the Old Testament. It does not create something out of nothing; it uncovers, selects, re-shuffles, combines, synthesises already existing facts, ideas, faculties, skills. The more familiar the parts, the more striking the new whole.’
The Act of Creation, Arthur Koestler
To ask the question ‘How might things be different?’ you have to define how things are. Once you have defined reality as it currently is, you can come up with ways to see how it can be different. It’s only when you’ve asked the question do you know if it has an answer and if that answer is viable.
An iPhone was not a brand new idea, Apple took things that already existed then shuffled and combined different elements to create something new. What Apple did so wonderfully was to give a solution that brought together a phone, a music player, a camera, a camcorder and a diary (plus many other elements). This was a solution to something we didn’t know we needed. Rather than carry separate elements, we now carry one piece of tech be it Apple or Android or and other smart phone.
A few weeks after the first event the RPLAS team decamped to the stunning location of Chicheley Hall near Milton Keynes. This event had the team thinking about how things can be done differently in relation to the Reactive Plasmonics programme grant and we will be reporting on potential projects and collaborations that spin off from this event in the near future.
Taking part in the event has changed the way that many of the researchers think about things. To be creative you should be observant and be willing to share and listen to ideas. You will never know how things can be improved, if you never ask the question of how if might be different.