Discovery Starts as a Terrible Idea

“Quick! The boss is coming. Look Busy.” As a modern society, we are obsessed with productivity. Wasting time is seen as a cardinal sin. Yet sometimes the greatest discoveries happen when we take the time to look deeper. Sometimes discovery starts as a terrible idea.

Looking at Nothing

It all started with a man who decided to staring into the vastness of space. Bob Williams, director of the Hubble Telescope in 1995, decided to point the billion dollar eyepiece at a patch of nothing in the sky. And not for a few hours…a full ten days. 

His colleague resisted, telling him this was a terrible waste of time. The Hubble Telescope had already gotten bad PR when it needed its lenses adjusted by space shuttle Endeavor. And now they were going to point the world’s biggest telescope at empty sky.

As director, Bob Williams had the power to make this happen. He also stated that if they found nothing, he would resign from his post.

Over the next 100 hours, Hubble snapped 343 photos, which then took two weeks to develop. All that time, Bob Williams had to wait to see if his hunch was right or if he’d made one of the most costly mistakes in astronomical history. 

Thousands of galaxies emerged. Instead of empty space, the images revealed the richness of the universe. This image was dubbed the “Hubble Deep Field.”

Invest the Time to Find the Answers

As artists or writers, we often deal with a finish line months or years distant. The desire to race to the end is overwhelming. Yet sometimes the deepest revelations come from looking at the seemingly trivial.

What question has been mulling around in your brain? And would you invest 100 hours in seeking the answer? Not just any answer, but the right one. 

German physicist, Max Plank, said: “When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.”

After all, emptiness is filled with possibilities. When you look at only the things you know, there seem to be only limited avenues to travel. It takes someone to risk devoting the time, to search for something new in the trivial or empty. 

Tim Kane

Monthly Mental Kitchen

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