Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The Ah-Ha Moment

What a pleasurable feeling we get after long multiple trials to get something done? Sometimes it lasts for hours, days and even years to just get it through, to solve a problem, to have that break through.

We are lucky enough to go to schools and colleges where we could learn about the Ah-Ha moments other researchers and scientists have gone through. However, not everything we learn, we will learn in school, books or even the Wikipedia page. Sometimes, we have to go a little bit further, walk the extra mile, some might say.

At other times, we learn about previous experiences or dilemmas in later phases in our lives after we get an Ah-Ha moment. Don’t you recall once when you were thinking “Ah-ha that’s why it happened that way”?

It’s called “Insight Learning”. It’s when you learn about something once you try harder and at times when you have no other choice but to try again.

It consists of four steps:

(1)    Preparation: Having the problem at hand and all the information available at the time.
(2)    Incubation: You think a little bit about the problem, do nothing about it and go do other "important" stuff because you don't need to solve it right now.
(3)    Illumination: The Ah-Ha moment. Finally getting it! Yaay!
(4)    Verification: Making sure it works every time. How about testing other solutions? If it didn't work out, then you will have to go back to steps (1) or (2) again. Maybe you will get it this time?

It was the Ah-Ha moment of Kohler in 1925, where his research involved a chimpanzee called Sultan. Here is the story of Sultan:

“Sultan was locked in a cage, where he had two sticks at hand and a banana placed out of his reach right outside the cage. He wasn't much hungry at the time, and when the hunger started to etch, he tried to reach for that banana placed outside of his cage with his arm. Unfortunately, he couldn’t reach it. He tried to reach it with each stick, but then again it didn’t work out. Sultan was frustrated and then he started playing with the two sticks. Only then, he had an Ah-Ha moment and realized that they could stick together to form one longer stick. He tried to reach for the banana, and guess what? He did!”

Image Credits to: Africa

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