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Genius can seem incomprehensible even to seasoned researchers. Einstein's theory of special relativity, Rutherford's glimpse into the invisible heart of the atom--such astonishing breakthroughs seem almost magical--like bolts of insight arising from nowhere. Genius Unmaskedreveals the true nature of genius, taking the reader on a journey through the lives and minds of more than a dozen brilliant scientists, ranging from Darwin, Einstein, Edison, and Pasteur, to such lesser known but important innovators as Maria Montessori. Their stories are truly compelling, and at time inspiring, but, more important, Roberta Ness uses these stories to highlight a cognitive tool box that anyone can employ. Ness, an authority on innovation, outlines eleven basic strategies--including finding the right question, observation, analogy, changing point of view, dissection, reorganization, the power of groups, and frame shifting. Beginning with Charles Darwin, who left behind a voluminous trail of writing that preserved his thinking process, Ness illuminates his use of all eleven tools. Indeed, for each genius, she combines a fascinating narrative of their creative work with an astute analysis of how they used particular tools to achieve their breakthroughs. We see how Ancel Keys, the father of the Mediterranean diet, used the "power of groups"--enlisting a team of statisticians, nutritionists, physiologists, and physicians--to track the health benefits of exercise and diet. How Paul Baran conceived packet switching--the idea that made the internet possible--through analogy with the neurological networks of the brain. And how Maria Montessori overturned the conventional frame of thinking about the role of children in education. Genius Unmaskedshows how the most creative minds in science used tools that can help us improve our creative abilities. Geniuses are not omnipotent. They are just very skilled at employing the creativity toolbox highlighted in this book.
Roberta Ness is an internationally renowned physician-scientist and author of over 300 scientific papers and books. She is a member of the Institute of Medicine National Academies of Science, a Fellow of the American College of Physicians, a Fellow of the American College of Epidemiology, and a frequent advisor to the National Institutes of Health, Department of Defense, and Centers for Disease Control. She is a past President of the American College of Epidemiology and President of the American Epidemiology Society. Her many awards and honors include a White House appointment to the Board of the Mickey Leland Center as well as receipt of the Snow Award, the most prestigious lifetime achievement award in her profession, presented by the American Public Health Association. She is Dean of the University of Texas School of Public Health and the University of Texas-Houston Vice President for Innovation and author of Innovation Generation: How to Produce Creative and Useful Scientific Ideas and Creativity in the Sciences.