Spatial Ability Plays Major Role in Creativity and Technical Innovation by Steve Yohanan

Image credit: Steve Yohanan

Image credit: Steve Yohanan


Nature recently posted an article entitled How to Raise a Genius: Lessons from a 45-Year Study of Super-Smart Children.  The article profiles Johns Hopkins professor of Psychology Dr. Julian Stanley and outlines the history and outcomes of his longitudinal studies from The Study of Mathematically Precocious Youth (SMPY).

SMPY began in 1971 and continues today, currently at the Peabody College of Vanderbilt University.  The research's general premise was to examine gifted children vis-a-vis their unique educational needs; "gifted" being defined as a child scoring above 700 (out of 800) on the SAT by the age of 13.  An extensive summary of SMPY research is detailed in Lubinski & Benbow, 2006.

The Nature article highlighted several findings of Stanley's research, two of which I found particularly interesting.  The first was in contradiction to professor of Psychology Dr. K. Anders Ericsson's research into expert performance, namely through deliberate practice.

Such results contradict long-established ideas suggesting that expert performance is built mainly through practice — that anyone can get to the top with enough focused effort of the right kind. SMPY, by contrast, suggests that early cognitive ability has more effect on achievement than either deliberate practice or environmental factors such as socio-economic status.

The second interesting result weighed innate math and verbal ability against spatial ability, finding that the latter was majority factor in creative thinking and technical innovation.

The findings, which dovetail with those of other recent studies, suggest that spatial ability plays a major part in creativity and technical innovation. “I think it may be the largest known untapped source of human potential,” says Lubinski, who adds that students who are only marginally impressive in mathematics or verbal ability but high in spatial ability often make exceptional engineers, architects and surgeons. “And yet, no admissions directors I know of are looking at this, and it’s generally overlooked in school-based assessments.”

On the Silver Globe by Steve Yohanan

Movie still from On the Silver Globe (credit

Movie still from On the Silver Globe (credit

Last night I caught Andrzej Żuławski's sci-fi epic On the Silver Globe (1988) on its final night at the Film Society of Lincoln Center.

I felt as if I was watching a haunting mashup of Tarkovsky's Stalker and Solaris; Aleksei German’s Hard to be a God; just about any Jodorowsky film; a smidgen of Kubrik's 2001; Cronenberg's Naked Lunch.  Though On the Silver Globe was produced contemporaneously with the primary films of George Lucas's Star Wars or George Miller's Mad Max, it is not hard to imagine that these franchises were subsequently influenced.

On the Silver Globe (Na Srebrnym Globie) Trailer

On the Silver Globe is not a movie for the faint of heart — especially given that it clocks in at 166 min.  For those though who seek unique cinematic experiences, the (digitally remastered) film will leave an indelible mark.

The storied history of the film's fractured production is discussed in MUBI's Notebook post: Power and Resistance: Andrzej Żuławski’s "On the Silver Globe".

Swift Collection Types Presentation by Steve Yohanan

I currently am a mobile developer on Android.  Nonetheless, I am interested in iOS and particularly the Swift programming language, so I try to pickup any related knowledge when I can find a spare moment.

Sean Levin, a Senior iOS developer at Yahoo!, gave a very good talk at the March 2016 Brooklyn Swift Developers Meetup: "The Wacky Wild World of Swift Collection Types".  I wasn't able to attend but recently viewed Sean's presentation available online.  For me, the value of the talk was his cogent walkthrough of the Swift concepts of a Generator, Sequence, Index, and Collection.

Elements of Programming

Around minute 37 of the presentation, Sean briefly digresses to mention "Elements of Programming" by Stepanov and McJones. I had not heard of the book but was loosely familiar with Alexander Stepanov, being a progenitor of the C++ Standard Template Library (STL).  The book sounds dense and mathematical but, at the same time, intriguing.