Scientist seeks origin of genius

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The Independent Online

A British scientist is trying to pinpoint the origins of creativity by examining the lives of more than 100 eminent 20th-century scientists, historians and explorers. The study, one of the biggest of its kind, is currently led by Professor Alan Macfarlane of Cambridge University. It began in 1983 and will be carried on after he retires.

"I'm interested in the actual creative moment," said Professor Macfarlane. "Did they get a moment of inspiration while on a walk, or listening to music?"

He believes a keen sense of curiosity lies at the heart of creativity, and suggests that it is often found in "people who live on the margins or the border between different cultures". The research will be published later this year.

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