Guidebolt

Scientific Intuition

2018.03.30

Understand all forces in play to the point of easy numerical approximations.

Scientific intuition is not just about concepts. It's about numbers too.

A classic conceptual example is cutting tape on a box using a knife. If the knife gets stuck at a thick part, you might be tempted to force through it with strength. But you need the intuition to know that as soon as the thick part breaks, the knife will fling off your arm tension to injure anything in its arc of influence. The safe thing to do is first make sure the cutting arc is outward through free air, and second try to saw through the knot with soft motions. Avoid increasing physical tension if there is another way.

An easy numeric example is estimating measurements. How long and wide does a car look like in specific units? You need this for civil engineering. How wide are typical corridors? You need this for architectural design. How large is the space inside a typical backpack? You need this for developing consumer products.