Conceptual Vistas, LLC ~


Johannes Kepler (1571 – 1630), had poor eyesight, yet remarkable insight. Once, while lecturing to his students, he noticed a coincidence between planetary conjunctions with the signs of the zodiac, and the ratio of the orbit of Jupiter to that of Saturn. Ultimately, his supposed key to the construction of the universe would prove elusive. Never the less, looking for real relationships between geometric shapes and measurable physical phenomena lead him to the formulation of important laws of physics, and inspired others to use geometry as a mental framework to guide their research.

Insight, or mere coincidence? Perhaps it’s as important to notice non-obvious patterns of occurrence than that any given one proves to be more than coincidence. Consider the modern example of data warehouses and data mining techniques. Certainly, given the vast amounts of data that are involved, very many coincidences will occur. Is there a relationship between a brand choice of toothpaste and the first letter of the shopper’s first name? Probably not; though one between brand choice and last name wouldn’t be as easy to dismiss – last names could indicate likely ethnic or other demographic distinctions. The important point is that some patterns are worthy of further investigation and others are not. Choosing which leads to follow requires thought. The example of Johannes Kepler shows that even following a false lead can prove fruitful, if that opens the mind’s eye to other patterns that may provide wonderful insights.

  • Brian Nalewajek
  • Principal
  • Conceptual Vistas, LLC
  • Copyright 2005