The Paradigm Trap

One hundred years ago, Albert Einstein was in the midst of an extraordinary run of paradigm-busting theories. In six months, he published five that would change dramatically what we thought we knew about the universe.

Einstein’s accomplishments were reviewed recently by Ronald Kotulak, science writer for the Chicago Tribune, in a special feature. In it, he recounted Einstein’s papers of 1905:

• March: Light exists as waves and particles

• April: Molecules can be measured

• May: All matter is composed of atoms

• June: Time and space are not constant

• September: Matter can be converted into energy, E = mc2.

It was an amazing leap of thought beyond the Newtonian paradigm. How did he do it? According to a quote from Kotulak’s article, Einstein said: “I keep asking questions that only children ask. They learn how to stop asking them in their schooling. I continue to ask them.”

Also, he was not bound by the existing paradigms of the famous physicists of the time. He was a nobody, a patent clerk, and had nothing to lose by thinking freely. He had no reputation to protect.

We have touched on similar themes from time to time in this column, noting that paradigm busters typically arrive at solutions by asking simple, basic questions and they are often successful because they are new to the job and do not have the baggage of the existing paradigm.

However, once you make the breakthrough, you may become trapped in the new paradigm. According to the article, “Einstein also dug in his heels when he didn’t quite agree with bold new scientific concepts, even after most other leading physicists accepted them.

“[Niels] Bohr and Einstein were close friends in the 1920s but had a falling out over quantum theory. Bohr loved the idea that in the subatomic world the behavior of particles could only be averaged out. Things happen by chance, and it is impossible to know exactly what an individual particle is doing at a given time.

“Einstein couldn’t fit quantum physics into his unending quest to unify all the forces of nature and couldn’t accept its loose ends, famously saying: ‘God does not play dice with the world.’”

We hope you have a maintenance and reliability paradigm that works and that you are not still rolling the dice with your equipment. And no matter how well your paradigm seems to work, don’t become trapped in it. Keep your eye out for the new theory that may take you to a higher level of performance.

Robert C. Baldwin, CMRP, Editor

Newsletter Sign Up

Your First Name:

Your Last Name:

Your E-Mail Address:

Would you like our Newsletter?:

Enter verification image value

Congratulations to Our Recent Survey Winner

Paul Kimble, a Vibration Analyst for General Motors, was chosen at random to win a $100 gift card for completing our recent online MT Buying Cycle Survey. You could win, too! Watch your e-mail for our next survey request.

Featured Supplier: Brady

bradyBrady Worldwide Inc. is an international manufacturer and marketer of complete solutions that identify and protect premises, products and people. Our products include high-performance labels and signs, safety devices, printing systems and software, and precision die-cut materials. Along with being a global leader in industrial and safety printing systems and solutions, we have been the company you trust when performance matters most since 1914. We serve customers in electronics, telecommunications, manufacturing, electrical, construction, education, medical and a variety of other industries.

Click here for more.

Featured White Paper: Spraying Systems Co.

SSCo Logo Color w tag

Clean Tanks Faster and Lower Operating Costs

Understanding all the tank cleaning equipment options is difficult because not all tank cleaning nozzles are created equal. Let Spraying Systems Co. show you how to reduce cleaning time, minimize liquid consumption and improve cleaning effectiveness. 

Click here to download the White Paper.