Richard Feynman was a physicist who helped develop the atomic bomb.
Once he saw the death and destruction it caused, not just in theory, but in reality, it broke him.
He could not get it out of his mind.
As a professor at Cornell University, he was unable to teach anything, unable to do anything. The dean told him to take a semester off and just work on something else – take his mind off atomics.
And then this happened:
Richard Feynman recounts: “I was in the cafeteria and some guy, fooling around, throws a plate in the air. As the plate went up in the air I saw it wobble, and I noticed the red medallion of Cornell on the plate going around. It was pretty obvious to me that the medallion went around faster than the wobbling. I had nothing to do, so I start figuring out the motion of the rotating plate. I discovered that when the angle is very slight, the medallion rotates twice as fast as the wobble rate—two to one. It came out of a complicated equation! I went on to work out equations for wobbles. Then I thought about how the electron orbits start to move in relativity. Then there’s the Dirac equation in electrodynamics. And then quantum electrodynamics. And before I knew it… the whole business that I got the Nobel prize for came from that piddling around with the wobbling plate.” A replica of the Cornell plate is now part of an exhibit marking the centennial of the Nobel Prize.
When you are stuck on a problem, you need to change your state and move it somewhere else in order to break free.
Feynman was focused on the past, but this break enabled him to focus on something else – something greater.
Originally Posted: https://www.quora.com/Why-do-people-take-a-break-Why-dont-people-work-on-those-issues-right-away-This-is-not-limited-to-dating-and-relationships
Originally Posted On: 2016-03-21