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Breakthrough! by Steve LANCE, Paul KURNIT

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12

Coming Up with the Big Idea

THE NINETEENTH-CENTURY mathematician/philosopher Henri Poincaré once described how he came up with the solution to a problem he’d been struggling with for months. Shut behind his office door, and with piles of paper before him, he’d failed to come up with the proof he was seeking. Finally, he left his office and went for a stroll, determined not to think about the idea. As he recounted the story, just at the moment he placed his foot on the first stair of the bus, the entire proof flooded into his mind. In a Eureka! moment, he saw the entire solution, elegant and complete.

Isn’t that a cool story? We thought so, too. But how many times has that happened to you? Totally frustrated, you get up from your workspace ...

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