"Genius is in-born, may it never be still-born."

"Oysters, irritated by grains of sand, give birth to pearls. Brains, irritated by curiosity, give birth to ideas."

"Brainpower is the bridge to the future; it is what transports you from wishful thinking to willful doing."

"Unless you keep learning & growing, the status quo has no status."

Wednesday, February 11, 2009


Infinity connotes so many things to us: the vastness of space, the limitless expanse of time, the endless pursuit of a solution to a problem.

Research conducted by Rudy Rucker suggests that there are several kinds of infinity: potential and actual, mathematical and physical, theological and mundane. Any reference to infinity often leads to many fascinating paradoxes. Under close scrutiny, these paradoxes teach us a great deal about the human mind, with its diverse powers and limitations.

The late Pyotr Anokhin, Russian neuro-psychologist from Moscow University, revealed that the neurons in the human brain had the potential of making an infinite number of connections. This means that there is no limit to building your brainpower.

The symbol for infinity that one sees often is the lazy eight curve, technically called the lemniscate. This symbol was first used in a seventeenth century treatise on conic sections; the work was John Wallis' Arithmetica Infitorium of 1656. It caught on quickly and was soon used to symbolise infinity or eternity in a variety of contexts.

For instance, in the 1700s the infinity symbol began appearing on a tarot card known as the juggler or the Magus. It is an interesting coincidence that the Qabbalistic symbol associated with this particular tarot card is a Hebrew letter א, (pronounced alef), for Georg Cantor the founder of the modern mathematical theory of the infinite, used the symbol א, (pronounced alef-null) to stand for the first infinite number.

The appropriateness of the symbol ∞ for infinity lies in the fact that one can travel endlessly around such a curve . . . demolition derby style, if you will. Endlessness is, after all, a principal component of one's concept of infinity. Other notions associated with infinity are indefiniteness and inconceivability. In the same way, your brain is able to make an inconceivably endless array of connections that give birth to inspiration and insights.

The Mobius Strip, shown above, is a one-sided continuous surface, also representing the shape of infinity. It was invented by Auguste Mobius (1790-1868), a German mathematician who worked mainly in geometry and topology. There is a limerick composed by an unknown wizard that goes:

"A mathematician confided
That a Mobius strip is one-sided.
You'll get quite a laugh
If you cut it in half.
For it stays i none piece when divided."

When we live in conscious connection with infinity, we come alive. recognising no limitations, we are free to build ourselves into whatever we desire.

We have had our minds astounded, baffled, challenged, delighted and ensnared by infinity. Zeno of Elea (c. 490-420 BC), the pre-Socratic philosopher from Italy, was famous for his paradoxes on infinity, denying the possibility of spatial division of motion. The four famous ones - The Dichotomy, Achilles and the Tortoise, The Arrow, and The Stade - always spark off animated discussions and provoke thoughts ad infinitium!

Today, we live in an atmosphere of perpetual inquiry and research focusing on the infinite nature of space-filling curves, the infinity of time, the timeless generation of plane and space fractals, the finite and infinite nature of space, the continual search for a larger prime number, transfinite numbers for generating infinite sets, and so much else within the infinite world of infinity.

Because infinity is a never ending amount, it may be difficult to grasp as a concept. It is easy enough to see ten people, count a dozen eggs, hear three notes of music, or paint a scene with six colours. We can even quantify very large values, such as the sun being a quarter million kilometres in diameter, or the disc of the Milky Way Galaxy being 100,000 light years across. But what is infinity? An immeasurable endlessness that apparently has no complete identity?

An exciting and intriguing way in which we can experience a physical feeling of infinity is to hold up a mirror directly in front of another large one.

Naturally, what you see is a mirror within a mirror, within a mirror, within a mirror . . . infinity (∞)!

This is the phenomenon that I metaphorically equate with building brainpower: no limitations, only wondrous endlessness!

Say Keng's expert comments:

That's why it is very important for us to make full use & maximise our brainpower, as part of our focal strategy to survive & thrive in the 21st century. More specifically, to learn how to think.

I am always reminded by Dilip's relentless exhortation in his writings, as exemplified in this apt catch-phrase of his:

Disciplined Thinking + Spontaneous Ideas = Infinite Possibilities

In the knowledge economy, with all the swirling information around us, & particularly, its exponential growth riding on the Internet, it is imperative that we spend more of our time thinking creatively, critically & strategically.

As the way I see it, it is precisely this thinking with ideas, coupled with our ingenuity & imagination, that we are able to discern & make full use of the swirling information around us.

It is pertinent to understand that we think with ideas, & not with information!

This brings me to a powerful lesson I have picked up from creativity guru Edward de bono many years ago. It's called de bono's First Law, which states:

1) one cannot regard any idea as absolute as there is a need to try to restructure an idea in order to get a better one;

2) the arrangement of information is only one of several alternatives;

3) because the current arrangement of information can never make the best use of available information, it is necessary to try to restructure to bring the arrangement up to date;

In a nut shell, I strongly feel that this beautiful law truly accentuates the significance as well as the potency of a deliberate practice in disciplined thinking.

At one end of the continuum, we have infinite ideas on account of our natural brainpower; & interestingly, at the other end, we always have a better idea from our disciplined thinking.

No doubt about it, thinking is hard work, as the great American industrialist Henry Ford once put it, but it certainly pays great dividends.

All of Dilip's books, starting with his debut 'Superbrain' & 'Brainfinity' during the nineties, followed by 'Braindancing', & then all the way to his recent releases of 'Unleashing Genius' & 'TaleBlazers', culminating to what he has designated as 'The Creative Brain Series', have been conceived & produced with the foregoing scenarios in mind.

They bring proven skill sets & powerful tools within the grasp of executives from any discipline.

[Excerpted from 'Building BrainPower: Turning Grey Matter into Gold', by Dilip Mukerjea.]

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