Thursday, July 7, 2011

Rethinking Creativity with Sir Paul Callaghan

(crossposted from The Big Idea)

Sir Paul is a physicist, teacher and communicator who has won many scientific accolades for his work in nano-technology and magnetic resonance. His experience and vision allow him to apply great depth of perception to his work in science and entrepreneurialism. He’s also the 2011 New Zealander of the Year, in part for his ability to bridge disciplines, and communicate how we need to work together to move this country forward.

Over the years, Sir Paul has written and broadcast widely, aiming to make science more accessible for all. He advocates the use of the arts to explain and explore science and find the human connection. To paraphrase, the arts helps to seek out that sense of wonder in science - to translate the ‘cold’ mathematical language of science (properties, dimensions) into something which speaks to people (emotions, colours, senses). He’s also spoken on how science is influenced by art and vice versa, observing that scientists ‘borrow’ the words used by the arts to connect with other parts of human creativity. (Unsurprisingly, many scientists – Sir Paul among them – are also artistic).

Sir Paul is also a firm believer in the future of New Zealand, although he says that significant changes need to be made in order to unleash our full potential. His recent address to StrategyNZ: Mapping our Future 2011 makes some very strong points.

His message is simple: NZ has limited natural resources, despite our blind belief in the ‘clean green 100% Pure’ image. We are behind in the world in terms of ‘smart’ industries, those which rely on good ideas cleverly executed rather than our traditional primary industries (farming, tourism) which are resource-heavy with a low relative return. He offers the staggering idea that 100 inspired entrepreneurs could double our present exports - around $4 billion of exports a year is currently earned by the high-tech and creative sector. And how would we do that? The answer is deceptively easy: grow our ‘smart’ industries.

read the rest here.

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