I am over 80 years of age. I’m too old to have significant new ideas. History tells us that almost all new ideas — whether in science, the arts or business — occur to young people. Neuroscientists tell us that this creativity is due to many new neurons developing in the frontal lobes of our brains — something that takes place between puberty and mature adulthood at around the age of 30. New ideas tail off steeply in creative individuals after that age (25 in the case of women — women’s minds mature earlier than men’s).
The following is an account of when my new idea occurred. Believe it or not as to which actually triggered it. As an adolescent, for reasons I needn’t go into, I was intrigued about social hierarchy as being revealed by anthropologists. Problems concerning hierarchy and how groups hold together — or fall apart, as they often do — became a background theme in my mind from adolescence onward.
Four weeks ago I feel over and broke my left hip. I had a superb operation in the National Health Service and returned home two days later, feeling no pain and able to walk. Two days later I tripped on a carpet and cracked my head badly against my (hard !) coffee table. I was concussed for a few minutes before being picked up and placed in a reclining chair. For the next two days — still suffering concussion no doubt — I would see bright-coloured butterflies fly across my vision every hour or two. Also, I found that when I wrote a posting for this blog I couldn’t spell the simplest words. I would have to go over a sentence three or four time before being convinced it was correct.
Two days after that, when my concussion had largely subsided, Presumed reading a book of Richard Feynman’s lectures which I’d been reading before my hip accident. I came across one of Feynman’s famous diagrams in which he illustrated the Principle (or Law) of East Effort. He then explained that all systems automatically proceed to a condition in which minimum effort of energy is required. No-one can explain why — it just happens from the most basic sub-atomic events through to the movements of galaxies in the heavens. It is an ineradicable product of the laws of thermodynamics — it can be derived from all the laws of physics, in fact.
Suddenly my adolescent problems of hierarchical groups and how they carry out objectives fell into place. The whole world’s economic system is subject to the Principle of Least Effort. Sooner or later, it will proceed to a condition of stabilisation in which the least energy is require to keep it going. All this, when forced together, is the basis of my theory — revision 6 of which is a few days ago on this blog. Whether it was due to my concussion or re-reading Feynman I’ll leave to you to decide !