Most people used to presume the Earth was the centre of the Universe. It sounded bizarre to others when Nicolaus Copernicus came up with Copernican heliocentrism. His model positioned the sun as the centre of the Universe.
His theory was controversial and was a bold claim at that time. He resisted openly publishing his views, not wishing—as he confessed—to risk the scorn “to which he would expose himself on account of the novelty and incomprehensibility of his theses1. He took the overlooked fundamental idea and came up with a better version.
Similarly, Once Planck’s professor told him the field of physics is approaching the degree of perfection, as geometry has been for centuries. All that is left is follow-up works2. Of course, He was wrong.
The Quantum theory, Electromagnetism, and General Relativity shifted our understanding of the Universe. These contributions led to the dawn of the new age of Physics. The number of Great works happened from 1925 to 1927. It is called the golden age of Physics3.
Social Norm dictates us, all of our existing problems were solved already. To ensure career progress in the conventional world, It’s enough for one to make minor improvements to existing solutions or pretend as if one is working. Anyone willing to take big bets on Important problems is considered silly.
If the Importance of an Idea and its Risk (i.e. possibility) is plotted on a 2d graph. People chose to stay in the lower left quadrant of the graph. What most people overlook is, there are always sweet spots with less risk and more importance.
People fail to recognize these sweet spots because of their conformed thinking. It takes courage and curiosity to access an idea from multiple perspectives and, to a large extent from the most opposing ends.
Discovering the Right interpretation of an Idea is as rare and important as predicting the future risks of an Impending danger. The danger could be anything, from the systematic risk of financial instability to the outbreak of a deadly virus.
Most Doomsayers were wrong, some of them made the Right predictions long before it happened. Not everyone sees the risk until it happens to them and some of them bluffed. Richard A.Clarke proposed “The Cassandra Coefficient” in his book “Warnings” to separate accurate predictions of danger from inaccurate ones4.
“Invisible Obvious” is one of the key characteristics for estimating risk in the Cassandra Coefficient. Sometimes, what people take for granted is where the worst risk is. Doomsayers (aka Cassandras) foresee those risks before they happen. one must be open to unorthodox interpretations to come up with such non-intuitive insights.
Invisible obvious are not just the list of interesting facts or the domain-specific trade secrets, rather the fundamental truths where none cared or even dared to look, that unravels the much Deeper, Intricate meaning of an Idea. one such Truth is there is still a lot of invisible-obvious to invent, discover, hack and explore.
It’s never easy to take the path that is less travelled. There is always a thin line that separates the impossible from the invisible-obvious, lunatic from the genius. Be sure to know when to exploit, when to explore and most importantly, when to stop.
If one wants to excel, one must start looking for the Invisible Obvious hiding in plain sight.
wiki on Heliocentrism ↩
Max Planck: Ways to physical knowledge. Speeches and Lectures, Volume 1. Leipzig 1943. wiki ↩
Prigogine, Ilya; Stengers, Isabelle (1984). Order out of chaos: man’s new dialogue with nature ↩
Warnings: Finding Cassandras to Stop Catastrophes Hardcover – May 23, 2017 by Richard A. Clarke affiliated-link ↩