Sunday, July 19, 2020

The Connection Between Curiosity and Knowledge

Last week, 7½ years after Aaron Swartz death, I was thinking about what made Aaron smart. There is this quote:

“Be curious. Read widely. Try new things. What people call intelligence just boils down to curiosity.”

Curiosity. It keeps popping up here and there.

I was read Anand Philip's blog today. The "about" page is just three lines:


Superpower: Curiosity.

Probably not a cat

Can curiosity be a superpower?

One of the answers was about The Oxford Electric Bell:

There wasn't much detail about the bell in the answer. Intuitively I was thinking it could be something like a clock that would require winding every now and then. But I wasn't sure. So I went to the wikipedia page on it.

That's where I learned that it is an actual bell that rings about twice a second and holds "the Guinness World Record as "the world's most durable battery [delivering] ceaseless tintinnabulation""

Now there are many things to learn on this page. We might want to see the bell ringing on Youtube. We might want to read about perpetual motion. We might even want to read about the word tintinnabulation.

Which reminded me of an old friend Akashnil Dutta who according to LinkedIn is now a Member of Technical Staff at OpenAI. It was about 9 years ago in a camp that I met Akashnil where he told me about magnetotactic bacteria. I asked him how he had come across this rather uncommon piece of information.

He said he would use the "Random Article" feature of wikipedia to find new stuff.

Curiosity is a super power.

Read. Notice. Be curious. Question. Read more. Repeat.

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