Nima Arkani-Hamed on the important skill of turning big ideas into sharp questions

Physicist Nima Arkani-Hamed delivered a series of lectures on “Research Skills” in 2009 as part of the Perimeter Scholars International (PSI) program at the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics.

Here is Nima talking about the most important research skill of all:

It is a remarkable thing that some of the questions that people started thinking about 2000 years ago— The intervening 2000 years have brought us to a place where we can actually work on them. And it is a meaningful thing to work on them.

They have been sharpen to the point where you can work on them. This is one of the—

If I had to say: What is the real, overarching skill of research? [What is] the thing that you cannot be taught, but that has to be experienced. And that has to be gone through a number of times. [It is] this process of taking very big ideas and turning them into sharp questions that you can actually work on. That is the greatest skill of all.

And that’s something that I will try to get you some flavor of towards the latter part of the lectures.

The original videos, C09028 - 09/10 PSI - Research Skills, are hosted at PIRSA. Their parts have been uploaded to YouTube as well.

The full curriculum from 2009-2010 PSI is here. In fact, all lectures from every single year have been recorded and made available online for free. Isn’t it awesome?

In Towards Greatness
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