Solving Old Problems by Studying New Species

Posted on March 3, 2017 by Liesl Ulrich-Verderber

Inspiration for the next great discovery or innovation is all around us, but are we looking in the right places?

The natural world has provided an endless wealth of inspiration, and now, as we discover more species and learn about life on the fringes, the possibilities are growing endlessly.

Image: Six different ocean species. Ho studying new species can lead to breakthroughs
Source: Nick Hobgood // Wikimedia, Uwe kils // Wikimediapaulshaffner // Flickr, NOAA Ocean Exploration & Research’s Photostream // Flickr, Christian Lukhaup // Wikimedia, Jens Peterson // Wikimedia

So, why aren’t we seeing a greater explosion in innovation? Why are our fields of study so narrowly focused on only a few species?

Today, we share with you a fascinating TED Talk from Alejandro Sánchez Alvarado, a developmental and regeneration biologist. His talk is a wonderful reminder that innovation is a process of making connections, and that by studying new species we can help to inspire future changing breakthroughs.

Give it a watch!

Via: TED 1

What is out there to be learned in that 95% of the ocean that is yet unexplored? What new species will we continue to add to our tree of life? How can the biology of these creatures lead to breakthroughs that will improve the future for all of us?

One line, in particular, stood out to me in this talk:

“Life on this planet and its history is the history of rule breakers.”

We all fall into traps of specialization. In our work, our studies, the people we choose to interact with, the media we consume, we are becoming more and more specialized.

Rule breakers are not specializers. Rule breakers see connections, they are able to look at the world in terms of possibility. The more we dare to peek over the edge of the boxes we have put ourselves in, the more we will see an infinite horizon of possibility stretching out in front of us. We will be able to connect people and ideas in ways that improve all of our lives.

As a final rallying cry, I will leave you with this task; this week, try reading, listening to, or watching one thing you never thought you would find interesting and force yourself to find a connection between it and something you already love. I can’t guarantee it will be life changing, but it will certainly lead you one step closer to becoming a rule breaker.

Stay beautiful & keep laughing!

-Liesl

Get some inspiration for finding Connection!

If you need a little help with the challenge I left you, we have a great way for you to get started. Try out our Surprise Me button!

It will take you into one of the hundreds of fascinating and uplifting articles we have in our archives!

Surprise Me!