Richard G. Petty, MD

After Making the Intuitive Leap…


I meet a great many people who tell me that they have had a great intuitive insight into the nature of the universe, and that they just need a bit of help in proving that they are right.

Someone once went so far as to promise me a mention in his Nobel Prize acceptance speech, if I’d just do all the work to prove his theories…

True story!

Next time that I get such a request I think that I’ll send back this quote by one of the great scientists of our time:

“…there is no prescribed route to follow to arrive at a new idea. You have to make the intuitive leap. But the difference is that once you’ve made the intuitive leap you have to justify it by filling in the intermediate steps. In my case, it often happens that I have an idea, but then I try to fill in the intermediate steps and find that they don’t work, so I have to give it up.”

–Stephen W. Hawking (English Theoretical Physicist and Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at the University of Cambridge, 1942-)   

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