The astrophysicist Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar loves his subject. His ideas were so strange that other scientists didn’t accept them for years. He worked in relative obscurity. He came up with the model for stellar evolution that became the basis for the theory of black holes. He also was remarkable in another way.

At the University of Chicago Chandrasekhar was scheduled to teach a class in astrophysics, eighty miles away from the main campus at the astrological observatory. He was looking forward to it, but only two students signed up. The embarrassingly low attendance was a joke among Chandrasekhar’s colleagues. Lecturers pride themselves on popular classes with high attendance. Chandrasekhar was expected to cancel the class because he had to commute the 160 miles along back-country roads for just two students. But he didn’t, because he enjoyed the subject and the classes. He and the two students threw ideas around. They were engrossed in their subject – motivated by the enjoyment of their ideas and fuelled by the satisfaction of creating new ways to describe reality. Their fulfilment came from the thrill of reaching new perceptions. It was the smallest class in the history of university education, and was mocked and ridiculed.

A few years later both of the two students won the Nobel Prize for physics. Later still Chandrasekhar himself was awarded a Nobel Prize, also for physics. They had the last laugh. It became the most successful university class of all time. Everyone in the class had a Nobel Prize.

Don’t be distracted by the views of others: focus on what engages and inspires you. The most exhilarating experiences are generated in the mind, triggered by information that challenges our thinking. if it’s not fun there’s no point in doing it.

If you’re excited by a subject that nobody else is, all that should matter to you is that YOU”RE interested. Revolutionary thinkers who create totally new ideas are driven by their interests, not whether or not others are as interested.

[From The Art of Creative Thinking by Rod Judkins]


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