Links for 2011-03-15

  • "For a long time, talent seemed to be about inheritance, about the blessed set of genes that gave rise to some particular skill. Einstein had the physics gene, Beethoven had the symphony gene, and Tiger Woods (at least until his car crash) had the golf swing gene. The corollary, of course, is that you and I can't become chess grandmasters, or composers, or golf pros, simply because we don't have the necessary anatomy. Endless hours of hard work won't compensate for our biological limitations. When fate was handing out skill, we got screwed.
    In recent years, however, the pendulum has shifted. It turns out that the intrinsic nature of talent is overrated - our genes don't confer specific gifts. (There is, for instance, no PGA gene.) This has led many researchers, such as K. Anders Ericsson, to argue that talent is really about deliberate practice, about putting in those 10,000 hours of intense training."
  • "You should not go to grad school because you're not sure what else to do with yourself.  You should not go into research if you will only be satisfied by a Nobel Prize.  In both of those cases, you are likely to be unhappy during grad school.  "
  • "When people think of pi (or should I write Ï?) they either think of pie or they think of circles. So, let me determine the value of pi without using circles and without using a pie. Really, this is what is so cool about pi. It is more than the ratio of circumference to diameter for circular objects. That is just scratching the surface."
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